Getting sufficient physical activity, as most of us know, is a healthy lifestyle choice that can help prevent disease, among many benefits. But physical activity can be difficult for people to naturally integrate into daily life, and there are barriers for older adults who often have chronic illnesses and mobility limitations.
Dori Rosenberg has conducted extensive research into the promotion of physical activity and reduced sedentary time. Her research uses a multi-level approach to help ensure individuals can be more successful in making healthy-lifestyle choices by understanding individual resources, characteristics, motivation, social lives, and community environments. She notes that society has many “default” options that actually promote inactivity and lead to declining health and function. One example is the predominance of opportunities to sit throughout the day, such as in front of computer screens at work, in meetings, while getting to and from places, and at home.
Because so much physical activity takes place in communities, Dr. Rosenberg investigates how the built environment—such as parks, open space, and sidewalks—can better encourage walking and other movement. She envisions more outdoor urban and suburban facilities that invite physical activity and do so inclusively so that individuals age 8 to 80 can use them, as well as those with disabilities. In addition, she advocates for changes to home and work environments to support frequent breaks from sitting and chances to incorporate small amounts of activity throughout the day.
When delving into data, Dr. Rosenberg says she values quantitative information, yet finds personal stories especially gratifying. Through interviews during her recent Take Active Breaks from Sitting Study, she found that older adult participants felt stronger, more alert, and more able to accomplish daily activities by working on sitting less. With her focus on promoting reductions in sedentary time, she was invited to participate in the National Institute on Aging and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Sedentary Behavior Workshop in 2013. Dr. Rosenberg hopes increased focus on sedentary behavior will lead to more opportunities for research that can support healthy aging for people with chronic conditions and mobility limitations.
Dr. Rosenberg is a Cancer Research Network Scholar and is starting new research to promote healthy aging among cancer survivors. She is also an investigator with the University of Washington (UW) Health Promotion Research Center (a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Prevention Research Center), contributing to projects that promote mobility and physical activity in aging populations. Dr. Rosenberg also serves as affiliate assistant professor in the UW School of Public Health Department of Health Services.
Physical activity; sedentary behavior; nutrition; lifestyle interventions; technology applications; built environment
Changing health behaviors including sedentary behavior, physical activity, and nutrition; role of built environment; promoting physical function and mobility; fall prevention
Obesity prevention and control; physical activity and nutrition promotion; role of sedentary behaviors; role of built environment
Preventing further disease, declines in function and disability; self-management; fall prevention
Health behavior change
Depression, cognitive function, physical activity, and aging
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Goins RT, Jones J, Schure M, Rosenberg DE, Phelan EA, Dodson S, Jones DL.Older adults' perceptions of mobility: a metasynthesis of qualitative studies.
Gerontologist. 2014 Mar 17 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
KCPQ-TV, Jul 12, 2012