Welcome to the Be Active Your Way blog, the official blog of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG). Follow the Be Active Your Way blog to learn what organizations across the nation are doing to help Americans be more physically active. Learn more about this blog.

Help Your Kids Have a Healthy Summer—and Make Sure You Do Too

Written by the Weight-control Information Network

Happy summer! Are you a parent or other caregiver who is trying to help your kids enjoy physical activity and stay healthy during the summer? With summer’s longer days and seasonal fruits and vegetables like strawberries, nectarines, and sweet corn, chances abound for you and your family to get healthier this summer.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers these ideas:

  • Eat breakfast every morning to charge up your family. Then go for a hike or bike ride.
  • Take your kids to a local park or walking path to increase their active time.
  • Limit screen time on TV, computers, and hand-held devices. Take play outdoors. Jump rope or play hopscotch or kickball.
  • Make sure your kids drink fluids to stay hydrated. Choose water or nonfat or low-fat milk instead of sugary beverages like soda or sports drinks.

WIN also suggests these tips for summer health for adults:

  • Beat the heat with early morning activity. Go for a walk or bike ride (wear a helmet and reflective gear) as the sun comes up.
  • Start a small garden in your yard or a community patch to exercise, grow healthy food, and have fun with family and neighbors.
  • When the sidewalks sizzle, get moving indoors with a fun fitness video or DVD.
  • Choose water workouts and make a splash as you get fit and strong.

Find more ideas in WIN’s Don’t Take a Vacation From Your Healthy Habits This Summer! This flyer suggests ways to be physically active, eat healthy foods, and stay hydrated during the summer. WIN also offers Parents … Splash Into a Healthy Summer with These Ideas!, a flyer for parents and other caregivers with ideas for helping kids have fun and be healthy. This flyer is available in Spanish as well as English.

Have you done something this summer that helped your family get healthier? Or something that helped you? If not, use the above tips to build a plan to try a new activity or fruit  before the season ends.

Global Comparisons of Youth Physical Activity

Written by the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) Alliance

Less than a month after the NPAPA and other supporting organizations released the U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, international results were presented at the first Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children in Toronto, Canada (May 21-24).

Hosted by Active Healthy Kids Canada, the summit brought together research teams from 15 countries to compare physical activity report card grades and discuss solutions to childhood inactivity. The results of the global comparison were shared with over 700 international delegates attending the summit and were also published in a Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Supplemental Issue.

Among the six grades assigned to the U.S., key grades and comparisons included:

Based on the report card grades presented above, we want to hear from you!

What are your initial reactions to the U.S. grades?

Compared to other countries, how would you rate the activity levels of U.S. kids?

What areas should the U.S. focus on to increase American kids’ active levels?

What are your suggestions for improving our children’s opportunities for physical activity, especially in areas where the U.S. did not score well (e.g. active transportation)?

The NPAPA has identified several strategies and tactics in the National Physical Activity Plan to improve physical activity among U.S. children. If successfully implemented, these strategies and tactics can positively impact youth activity levels and increase U.S. Report Card grades.

Commentary from Cornell McClellan: Masters athletes face unique physiological and nutritional challenges

Read the entire June 2014 issue of Elevate Health, from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN).

Pledge to Talk about Physical Activity

Written by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)

In case you missed it, last month CDC released its Vital Signs report on Adults with Disabilities: Physical activity is for everybody.  The report focused on physical activity levels among working age adults 18 to 64 and the impact of receiving a health professional’s recommendation for physical activity.  Key messages included:

  • Working age adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer than adults without disabilities.
  • Nearly half of adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, an important protective health behavior to help avoid these chronic diseases.
  • Inactive adults with disabilities were 50 percent more likely to report at least one chronic disease than were active adults with disabilities.
  • Adults with disabilities were 82 percent more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.

Looking at these key messages, there is a clear relationship between people with disabilities being more likely to visit a health professional due to increasing prevalence of chronic disease and secondary conditions.  This relationship creates an opportunity for doctors and other health professionals to play a key role in promoting physical activity among their adult patients with disabilities by simply talking about it.  CDC lists 5 steps that doctors and other health professionals can use to increase physical activity among adults with disabilities:

  1. Remember that Physical Activity Guidelines are for Everybody
  2. Ask about Physical Activity
  3. Discuss Barriers to Physical Activity
  4. Recommend Physical Activity Options
  5. Refer Patients to Resources and Programs

Here at the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability we have created an action campaign surrounding the role that doctors and other health professionals can play in the form of a pledge.  The pledge for healthcare providers includes pledging to talk about physical activity to patients, especially those with disabilities; prescribing physical activity; and using NCHPAD’s Physician’s Toolkit to connect patients with resources and opportunities to be physically active.  Within the Physician’s Toolkit individuals will also find DocTalk Videos, which include short video messages of doctors talking to other doctors about the importance of prescribing physical activity.  We encourage broad dissemination of these resources and others provided by CDC to support this Vital Signs report. CDC has developed a dedicated resource page for doctors and other health professionals with information to help them recommend physical activity to their adult patients with disabilities, www.cdc.gov/disabilities/PA

Not a doctor or health professional?  No problem!  Physical activity is for everybody –and everybody can help.  Communities, health professionals and adults with disabilities can come together and help increase physical activity among the 21 million working age adults with disabilities in the U.S.  Learn more about what can be done in this factsheet and find your role of action!

Get Active, Stay Hydrated!

Written by the NEA Health Information Network

After the Polar Vortex that seemed to never want to end, summer is just around the corner! If you’re like us, you probably can’t wait to head outdoors and shake off those winter blues.

Who says that resolutions are only for January? Set a fitness goal to accomplish by summer’s end! Summer’s longer daylight hours make it easier to wake up early and get moving, or to get in a brisk walk after work.

STAY HYDRATED

Before you head out the door, be sure to grab two things: sunscreen and water.

Popular to contrary belief, you don’t need fancy sports drinks to hydrate while being active. Did you know that the average sports drink has nearly nine teaspoons of added sugar? That’s more than the daily suggested sugar limit for kids and teens!

Water is refreshing and free – and it does a great job keeping you hydrated while you’re on the move.

#WhyGetActive

Written by IHRSA

When it comes to promoting the health benefits of physical activity to Americans, we need to stop thinking in terms of “awareness.” Polls indicate that Americans have heard the message. And in a culture that feeds on controversy, the notion that exercise is good for health remains one of the last points of consensus, at least in broad strokes.

But, still, too few Americans live healthy, active lives. Evidence indicating that exercise can prevent or mitigate nearly every major disease is simply not persuasive enough.  Even appealing to vanity – “hey, you’ll look better” – barely moves the needle, if at all, over the long run.

IHRSA believes that exercise is a highly individualized pursuit fueled by personal motivations and emotions that go well beyond the prospect of disease prevention.

Sure, the prospect of warding off cancer or diabetes plays a significant role, but the more important motivator is “why” we want to ward off cancer or diabetes.

For some, the “why” might be a child or loved one, a career, the feeling of waking up with energy, or even just the age old fear of sickness.

The motivations are endless and timeless.

And those motivations inspired IHRSA to launch a social media campaign, #WhyGetActive, in conjunction with National Physical Fitness & Sports Month.

The goal of the campaign—which revolves around everyday people sharing their answers on social media to the question, “Why do you Get Active?” – is to provide a platform for sharing individual motivations and encouraging inactive people to find their own.

To see the power of #WhyGetActive in action, simply visit whygetactive.org.

Though the campaign was begun by IHRSA, we hope to see the movement take on a life and spirit of its own as individuals and organizations adopt #WhyGetActive with the common goal in mind: To foster a culture of wellness, where physically active lifestyles are encouraged, supported, and easy to sustain.

Visit whygetactive.org for more information, to see what others are doing with their #WhyGetActive posts, and to learn how you can share your message as part this campaign for a healthier, more active world.

The basic “how to” directions are to either write on a whiteboard or a PDF template why you pursue an active life. Take a photo and share on social media using the hashtag #WhyGetActive. Or share a photo of yourself doing a favorite type of exercise using the #WhyGetActive hashtag. Ask your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.

The Doctor (and Ranger) Will See You Now

Guest Post from the Institute at the Golden Gate

In the past decade, rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases have skyrocketed in children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that more than one-third of adults in the United States—more than 72 million people—are considered medically obese and therefore more likely to develop major chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Lack of physical activity and poor diet has been established as the causes of an unhealthy, overweight nation. The CDC estimates that more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is sedentary.

The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle require action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized, low-cost healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem. There is a growing consensus that nature has many health benefits, from increased physical activity to mental, emotional, and community health benefits.  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we help convene an initiative called Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area (HPHP: Bay Area) that fulfills a clear need to increase access to parks and develop them as health resources for the whole family—especially those in the highest health need communities.

Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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