Just ask, AARP Wellness Ambassador Denise Austin and her daughter, fitness trainer and health coach, Katie Austin, and they’ll tell you that two walking companions are better than one. The mother and daughter, now walking buddies, have teamed up to participate in AARP’s Fit & Fund Health Challenge, a program created to motivate people 50 and older adopt heathly habits that will keep them to live well.
In early May, AARP launched the intergenerational fitness program, created to motivate people 50 and older to adopt healthy habits that will help them to live well – with their loved ones and friends. According to a 2016 AARP Survey on physical activity, three-quarters of adults 40 and older reported seeing benefits from exercising; however 25 percent lacked the enthusiasm to complete a fitness program.
This challenge encourages participants to find a walking buddy –friend or loved one—and walk 30 minutes a day. Participants can also join the Fit & Fun online community, which provides healthy lifestyle tips, fun daily fitness hacks, and content from walkers across the country.
Keeping Each Other Motivated
“Living a healthy life is important to Americans as they age. Research shows they often fail to do so because they struggle to stay motivated and engaged. The activities in this challenge are designed to keep participants motivated and performing them with family and friends will keep it fun,” said Julia Alexis, Vice President at AARP, in a May 7 statement announcing the kickoff of AARP’s Fit & Fund Health Challenge.
Adds AARP State Director Kathleen Connell, “The thing about walking is that most anyone can organize a one-person walk. But sticking to it is hard for many.” Adding a social element will motivate a walking group to stay with it and leads to interactions that can spill out surprisingly to other healthy social activities, she says.
“We support community-based walking programs and welcome volunteers who want to get started where they live. That’s key. Adding the online challenge element hopefully will reach more people and inspire or boost walking and other healthy activity,” notes Connell.
“We live in a culture that glorifies young people being active (especially in beer commercials) but not so much when it comes to people over 50. We need to turn that around. But I don’t think it will be by changing advertising. We’ll bring about change ourselves simply by making health & fitness activities a fundamental part of age friendly communities as well as the mindset for people who want to get the most out of life regardless of age,” says Connell.
Every week, Denise and Katie will share new videos, articles and fitness tips on the Fit & Fun website to keep participants inspired.
“Katie and I have been walking together since she was a baby! She’s an awesome workout partner. Having an accountability buddy keeps everyone motivated. We hope this challenge will promote fun and healthy habits that people can keep for a lifetime,” says Denise Austin, AARP Wellness Ambassador and former member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Research supports the importance of having a walking buddy. According to a 2005 study conducted by doctors at The Miriam Hospital/Brown Medical School and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, “obese participants with a successful weight loss accountability partner lost more weight than those who did not have partners.”
Come Join the Challenge
AARP members, employees and family members of Westview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and anyone 21 or older is invited to join the challenge. The Fit & Fun Health Challenge and Sweepstakes runs for 8 weeks through June 30. Participants can enter anytime for a chance to win the grand prize – an all-inclusive spa vacation for two.
To register, visit aarp.org/challenge to sign–up and visit the Fit & Fun Health Challenge site daily to complete activities and log in daily walks. Every day, participants can earn entries for a chance to win.
There is no purchase necessary to participate for legal resident residing in 50 states including the District of Columbia, and no physical activity is required. To see the official rules, including the odds of winning and prize description, go to www.aarp.org/challenge. Void where prohibited.