The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the leaves are
turning golden amber—what could be better than
an invigorating walk outside?
If you happened to be in the nation’s capital on
Sept. 18, you might have seen a sea of older adults
along with a few recognizable faces doing just that.
U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy,
National Institute on Aging director Dr. Richard
Hodes, fitness expert Donna Richardson and White
House Conference on Aging Executive Director Nora
Super were joined by more than 100 energized older
adults from across the Washington, D.C., area for a
scenic walk from the Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg. past
the United States Botanic Garden, the west side of
the U.S. Capitol, several presidential monuments, the
Peace Monument and back again.
The event: A Capitol Walk with Go4Life. The inspiration:
the Go4Life exercise and physical activity
campaign for people 50+ from NIA and Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote
Walking and Walkable Communities.
Leading the Capitol Walk were (from l) NIA’s
Dr. Chhanda Dutta, Edwin Walker, Nora Super,
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Donna
Richardson, NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes,
NIA deputy director Marie Bernard and NIA’s
Dr. Lyndon Joseph. Below, an energetic
participant warms up before the walk.
Photos: Charles Archambault
Both NIA and the surgeon general’s office are
actively encouraging people to get moving, no
matter their age. Go4Life calls for a balanced
exercise program of strength, flexibility, balance
and endurance. One way seniors can help to meet
those goals is by walking, which the surgeon general
pointed to as “one of the most powerful things we
can do to improve our health.”
U.S. adults tend to become less active as they get
older. As a result, they miss out on the health benefits
of regular physical activity, such as reduced risk of
disability, heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes and
other chronic conditions.
“The good news,” noted Hodes, “is you’re never too
old to start exercising. That’s what motivated NIA to
launch the Go4Life campaign.”
Established in 2011, Go4Life looks to empower older
adults to become more physically active with age. It
offers exercises, motivational tips and free resources
in English and Spanish to help people get ready, start
exercising and keep going. With its more than 300
national and local partners, the campaign reaches into
communities to help older adults be active every day.
A Capitol Walk with Go4Life was NIA’s premier local
event in recognition of the campaign’s inaugural
month this September in collaboration with the White
House Conference on Aging. Many Go4Life partners
and supporters joined NIA for the walk, including
HHS’s Administration for Community Living; the
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition,
of which Richardson is a member; the National Council
on Aging; Oasis; Georgetown University School of Nursing; Sunrise Senior Living; the Association of
State and Territorial Health Organizations; the HHS
FedStrive occupational health program; and the D.C.
The walk was but one event featuring aging and
exercise during Go4Life Month. Across the U.S.,
partner organizations hosted a wide range of activities
including workout classes, relay races, free health
screenings and health and wellness fairs.
NIA’s Karen Pocinki, director of Go4Life, said, “Older
adults are awesome. This event and those taking
place across the country highlight how important it
is to stay active to stay healthy. It has been a labor
of love to translate research results into practical tips
and tools to help individuals Go4Life every day.”
A walker from the YMCA shared her sentiment.
“Today’s event? Remarkable. Why? Because we get
a chance to show people that seniors like us don’t
have to sit on the sofa. We’re active and we want
others to be active, too!”