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.

Keep an Active Piece of Summer in Your Heart

Written by the American Heart Association

Why do we sometimes get the blues at the end of summer? Is it because of the long, hot days beating down and drying out the landscape? Watching the days shorten and the mornings and evenings darken? Or is it the anticipation of giving up the casual summer clothes and vacation activities, and thinking ahead to tighter routines?

It’s natural to think of summer as a freer, more active time. But, as fall approaches and back to school mode creeps in, we don’t have to give up on the fun or abandon our physical activity routines. We can do ourselves a favor, and plan now to take the aspects of summer that we like and integrate them year round into a regular pattern for a healthy lifestyle and a healthier heart.

It’s important to exercise regularly, because the effects of exercise ebb away once physical activity stops. Most studies suggest many of the key benefits are lost in four to six weeks of inactivity.  So, keep that physical activity going and don’t let the blues cut your summer short or take a toll on your heart health.

What activities have been fun for you this summer? Motivation is a key consideration in keeping up an exercise routine. Having a workout partner also helps many people adhere to their physical activity plans. If you enjoyed that summer walk, picnic softball game or swim with the kids, think about ways to continue similar activities into the fall. Research has shown that people will be motivated more to participate in physical activity if it’s something they enjoy, feels like a positive experience and helps them feel relaxed or reduce tensions.

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The Importance of Exercise for Kids with Arthritis

Written by The Arthritis Foundation | KIDSGETARTHRITISTOO.ORG

Physical activity can boost your child’s ability to move and enjoy life.

We all know exercise is good for us, but the benefits of physical activity for children with juvenile arthritis and related conditions can even be greater – as can the downsides of not being physically active. That’s why it’s especially crucial for kids with arthritis to keep moving.

Fitness Facts 

By and large, studies show that kidswith arthritis are less fit than their healthy counterparts. Specifically, they have less muscle strength and muscle endurance. They also have less aerobic capacity (needed for prolonged exercise) and anaerobic capacity (needed to perform intense bursts of activity); therefore, they tire faster during physical activity than kids who don’t have arthritis even when their disease is inactive.

On the flip side, studies also demonstrate that these conditions can be improved with exercise training. Aerobic and anaerobic capacity can be boosted, and resistance training can increase muscle strength and endurance.

Yes, They Can 

Perhaps the most important thing to know about exercise for children with arthritis is that when done properly it does no harm. They can and should exercise.

Many studies show that land- and water-based exercise is safe, and that joint pain and swelling don’t get worse after exercise programs.

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If Exercise Is Medicine, Will People Fill Their Prescriptions?

Written by IHRSA

On Monday, July 14th, the Healthcare Leadership Council hosted an excellent briefing on non-adherence to medication, highlighting the fact that 1 out of 3 patients never fill their prescriptions, and nearly 3 out of 4 Americans don’t take their medications as directed.

The panelists discussed innovative strategies for improving adherence, such as targeted and timely communication. Each strategy was based on the reality that a one-size-fits-all approach to communication is both inefficient and ineffective. Clearly, the digital age is creating medical providers with new opportunities for engaging patients and tracking their adherence, but there are no simple solutions for getting folks to take their medicine.

The problem of non-adherence to medication raises an uncomfortable question for physical activity advocates.

If 1/3 of patients are signaling that a visit to the pharmacy is a barrier too high to overcome, and 75% are finding it too difficult to take medication properly, how many patients can we reasonably expect to fill an exercise prescription that typically requires 150 minutes/week of exertion?

Although evidence suggests that patients are more likely to exercise if their doctors prescribe exercise, we suspect very few patients will stick to an exercise program unless medical offices and physical activity providers (e.g. health clubs, personal trainers, community centers) adopt engagement strategies similar to those being implemented by the pharmaceutical industry for medication adherence.

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Use Caution in Young Overhead Athletes with Shoulder Pain

Written by Dr. David Geier, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

As participation in youth sports increases and younger children are playing a single sport year round, it is no wonder that more young athletes are being seen in doctors’ offices in this country. For throwing sports like baseball and overhead sports like swimming and tennis, shoulder pain is a common complaint.

Little League Shoulder (LLS) is an overuse injury to the proximal humerus (upper arm) originally described in young baseball players. In a presentation at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting*, researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston, Division of Sports Medicine presented the findings from cases of Little League Shoulder seen at their center between 1999 and 2013. They analyzed patients from that 15-year period to better understand the demographics, symptoms, risk factors and treatment outcomes of LLS.

Patient demographics

Of the 95 cases of Little League Shoulder, 93 of the patients (98%) were male, with an average age of 13.1 years. The ages of the patients ranged from 8 to 16 years old.

97% of the LLS patients were baseball players, and 86% of those were pitchers. 3% of the LLS patients were tennis players.

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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).