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National Institutes' New Program Focuses on Exercises for the Elderly

May 07, 2001|Benedict Carey

Dust off the spandex, consumers. That confederation of medical bigwigs known as the National Institutes of Health wants to be your fitness trainer.

Last week, the agency announced the debut of an exercise program, including a video and book, called "Exercise With the National Institute on Aging," geared to people over 50. As stuffy as the NIH may seem as a workout partner, the program does promise something that many more sexy ones don't: routines backed by the full weight of good research.

The video's host, Margaret Richard, 54, has studied ballet and dance and has many years of experience as a fitness instructor. She includes lifting routines, which studies have shown not only help control weight but also can significantly improve strength in adults of all ages; and flexibility and balance exercises, which help prevent falls--"a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that can lead to disability and loss of independence," the agency says.

Many workout videos on the market don't take into account older viewers, doctors say, and can put them in dangerous positions, literally--such as bending over with dumbbells, for instance, or doing yoga-like moves that put weight on the neck. Not so here. To order both book and tape, mail a check or money order for $7 payable to the National Institute on Aging, NIAIC, Department RZ, P.O. Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057. For more information, call (800) 222-2225. To preview the video, go to http://www.maillist.org/exercise.

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