The earlier in life you start being active the better, but it’s never too late to start. As we discussed in last month’s Health Chat Live on Facebook, in some cases, starting late doesn't put you behind at all. Pennsylvania lawmakers decided to formally recognize the benefits of exercise for older adults by enacting House Resolution 493, which designated September 24-28 as the state’s “Active Aging Week.” IHRSA submitted testimony to the sponsor in support of the bill.

Almost 15 years ago, the International Council on Active Aging started a campaign focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing physical activity levels among older adults. The weeklong campaign became known as “Active Aging Week” and is annually celebrated during the last week in September.

“Active Aging Week” challenges the idea that physical ability declines with age. The observance serves as a reminder that older adults can live a full, happy, and healthy life simply by making physical activity a daily habit.

Let the statistics speak for themselves. Physical activity in middle and older age has been shown to improve blood glucose and prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and delay cognitive decline. For older adults with an existing chronic disease, physical activity can even sharpen mental and physical functioning and add life to years.

Unfortunately, obesity and physical inactivity are still prominent issues in the United States. Less than half of U.S. adults are physically active (participating in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity three times a week), a number that decreases to about a third after age 65. As this inactivity epidemic continues to spread, more and more citizens are at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and some cancers.

In Pennsylvania alone, nearly a third of residents are considered obese based on body mass index. This has to change.

It’s important for other states to follow Pennsylvania’s lead and acknowledge the positive effects physical activity has on health and quality of life. If you are interested in getting a similar resolution introduced in your state, we can help. Contact IHRSA's public policy team.