Folks over 50 in the 21st century are reinventing aging—that's the news flash from the health and medical community, not just from the social trends pundits. Staying active and taking charge of maintaining health, fitness, and well-being plays a big role in this change. Health, fitness, and medical websites abound on the Web—there are literally thousands and thousands of sites.

Using the following resources will give you a good start at finding the information you need to find answers to questions about fitness and exercise, specific health conditions or drugs and other wellness topics.

Resources for Staying Well, Active and Fit

Use it or lose it. Scientific research and personal experience are daily confirming the wisdom of this old saying. Get going with these sites.

  • Be Active. Eat Healthy. That's the focus of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. This site has fitness and exercise information appropriate for persons of different ages and conditioning.

  • Okay, if you can get beyond that word "seniors" (we gritted our teeth), the Exercise for Seniors page from MedlinePlus is a gold mine of news and information on fitness and the health benefits of staying physically active. The site offers news, overviews, and links to good exercise information and programs (including the use of exercise in management of specific health conditions such as arthritis and heart disease).

If you want to do just one thing to help maintain your weight and promote cardiovascular fitness, then get out and walk. Hundreds of research studies show that this easily accessible, low impact activity works for almost everyone. And walking fits guidelines for endurance exercise such as those developed by the American College of Sports Medicine and other organizations.

Walking can also be fun—and social: check out the walking links in the Activities section. If you'd like to walk to build fitness, maybe even crosstrain (walk, jog, hike, swim or bike) so you could do a minitriathlon, and would like a program, you can Walk with Remar Sutton, one of Money Matters's spokespersons. The event described on the site is long over, but the training calendars are fun and effective any time; they are based on the programs developed by Dr. James M. Rippe, often called the Father of American Fitness Walking.

Using the Internet to Research Health Conditions

Want to research a specific illness or condition? Find out more about a prescription drug or an herbal supplement? Learn how to better manage the stress in your life? Find caregiver resources to help you care for a parent? These omnibus sites offer the place to start for sound information and thousands of resources.

  • Medline Plus, an omnibus site from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, offers a wealth of information on health and wellness as well as hundreds of diseases and conditions. Check out prescription and over-the-counter drug information.

  • familydoctor.org—consumer health information produced by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Solid information on health conditions, treatments and drugs among other topics in clear, easy-to-use format.

  • Healthfinder.gov, a service of the National Health Information Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a web portal for health information including an A to Z library of health conditions, information on health topics organized by interest groups, health news, information on health issues and organizations, and links to other sites that have been evaluated.

  • Health Information from the National Institute on Aging provides a quick place to check out information on health conditions that tend to be associated with age. It also has information on caregiving, cognitive health, exercise and physical activity, healthy eating, and end of life care.

  • Among top privately sponsored websites that provide consumer information on health matters and medical conditions, we recommend mayoclinic.org from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health, from Harvard Medical Schools. A number of consumers also like the resources provided by WebMd.com.

  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one of the National Institutes of Health, provides information on complementary, alternative and integrative health. Of particular interest may be the thorough reports on specific dietary and herbal supplements and on specific treatments.

  • HerbMed.org provides evidence-based information on numerous herbs and plants used for health.

Tips on Evaluating the Quality of Health Information on the Web or in Print

There are tons of sound health and medical information online, as well as boatloads of mediocre, inaccurate, and just plain off-the-wall stuff. Commonsense and a healthy skepticism can help you sort the useful from the useless. Educating yourself to analyze and evaluate information can help even more.

The following articles outline the criteria developed and used by leading healthcare organizations and professionals to evaluate information on websites, but the criteria are also useful for print, television or any other medium.

Evaluating Options for Assisted Living

What is assisted living? The term describes options to foster independent living for persons who need help with some facet of daily living—such as bathing, medication, or cooking—yet do not need 24 hour nursing care.

Evaluating options for assisted living starts with determining what kind of help is needed. The following resources provide several checklists to use for the decision making process including deciding on a facility.