Kinesiology Faculty, Nutrition Alumna Profiled in UMass Magazine Story "Aging Expertly"

Amanda Paluch and Uche Akobundu

Amanda Paluch (left) and Uche Akobundu

June 21, 2022

A story appearing in the Spring 2022 issue of UMass Magazine highlights the work being conducted by UMass faculty and alumni to help all of us age gracefully, researching habits of body and mind for "keeping a spring in our step."

"Aging Expertly" profiles the work being conducted by Amanda Paluch, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition alumna Uche Akobundu ’03MS, as well as the work of Raeann LeBlanc and Cynthia Jacelon from the College of Nursing.

“Physical activity works on multiple mechanisms in the body and is linked to chronic disease prevention,” says Paluch. “One way this is measured is through taking more steps.”

Her research shows that middle-aged adults who manage to get at least 7,000 steps a day lower their risk of premature death by 50 to 70 percent. But it also shows that there are only incremental increases in benefits beyond this point up until the magic "10,000 steps" figure frequently touted in the media - and that at this point, it levels off.

 “Steps per day is a great metric for public health promotion,” Paluch explains. “Walking is simple—most people can do it and track it, so it is an excellent way to promote moving more for a large proportion of people. If you’re at 10,000, great! But you can still get benefits by increasing from 5,000 to 6,000.”

Akobundu, a senior director of Nutrition Strategy with Meals on Wheels, discusses the importance of social connection that goes along with providing meals to seniors.

“The meal is the central service, but people need more than meals,” Akobundu says. “We provide the core elements: meals, safety checks, social connection, and connections to the community in general.”

She emphasizes the role that the "wheels" provides - a human interaction that in many ways is as important as the food. “That’s the height of a nourished life—the opportunity to engage in one’s community, to receive services on one’s own terms, and to contribute to one’s community as well,” Akobundu says.

Read the full feature story here.