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For more than half a century fellows of the National Academy of Kinesiology have enthusiastically advocated for the promotion and adoption of physically active lifestyles as an affordable and effective means to prevent chronic diseases and conditions, and enhance independence and high quality of life for older adults. It is possible to discern distinct evolutionary stages when examining scholarship related to the role of physical activity in the promotion of healthy aging. Research into physical activity and aging began with critical early studies that established the underlying scientific evidence for a relationship between physical activity and healthy aging. More recent work has addressed such topics as building consumer demand, developing policies and legislation to support active aging, and understanding the complex interrelationships between physical activity and other lifestyle factors in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and conditions. It is increasingly apparent that strategies to promote active and successful aging must be integrated into an effective public policy. Kinesiologists and other health professionals, working in collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines, can help to reduce risk factors for chronic disease and improve quality of life for older adults by building awareness of the importance of physical activity and by assisting with the development and implementation of appropriate and effective interventions that reduce risk factors and improve quality of life.
Chodzko-Zajko (NAK Fellow #407) is the head of the Dept. of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.