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Joseph Ciccolo, PhD

Joseph T. Ciccolo, Ph.D., is a Program Director in the Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) within the Behavioral Research Program (BRP) of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). His primary research interests are broadly focused on the efficacy of novel clinical treatments for addiction and mental illness. His specific area of interest has been cigarette smoking cessation in high-risk and hard-to-reach populations. He is particularly interested in mechanisms of change and behavioral strategies that can be used to help smokers quit.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Ciccolo was the Principal Investigator of multiple NIH-funded clinical trials, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University. He also was a regular grant reviewer for the Center for Scientific Review and has served as a Senior Associate Editor and an editorial board member for several scientific journals. To date, Dr. Ciccolo has authored over 70 original scientific papers, reviews, and other publications. After receiving his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, he completed an NIH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

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Taking Up a Hobby Later in Life

Ask the Expert


I am 62 years old and lost 80 pounds in the last two years. I am now physically fit. My trainer suggested that I take up a hobby that would make exercise more fun, such as training for an event at the Utah Senior Games. I want to learn how to throw the javelin—because of my asthma, endurance events are out of the question. What training advice do you have for older people who want to enter amateur athletic competition?


I have two words for you: resistance training! It's great for people your age and will really help you with your new hobby, track and field. Resistance training can be done with rubber and elastic bands, free weights or machines.

Training for a competition or race is a fantastic way to motivate yourself to become more active. Whether it's a 3K walkathon, a distance bike race or a swim meet, having a goal will encourage you to stick with exercise.

It takes a lot of physical effort to throw a javelin, so you will need a good amount of upper and lower body strength. Your trainer can help you with specific exercises in the gym.

Here are two exercises that are good for anyone looking to build core upper body and shoulder strength:

  • Sit on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor and your hips, knees and toes facing forward.
    • Holding a medicine or weighted ball, twist to the left 90 degrees from the forward position.
    • Return to facing forward, then twist right the same amount.
    • Keep your hips facing forward at all times.
    • Try to do at least 3 sets of 25 twists to each side.
  • Close some elastic tubing in a door at a height just slightly below your shoulders.
    • With your back to the door, stand a few feet away from the door and grab the tubing from behind you with one hand.
    • Keep your hips and feet facing forward. Turn slightly to one side. Pull the tubing forward so that your hand is in front of you.
    • Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Repeat with the other side.
    • You can also place the tubing under your feet and pull it up and in front of you so that your arms are straight up in the air or to the side so your arms are straight out to the side.
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