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.

Posts tagged: childhood obesity

Teaching Good Habits Through the Eat2WIN Football Camp & Health Combine

Guest Post from Retired NFL Football Player, Langston Moore

From the time I was born 30+ years ago, I’ve always been attached with the “big” moniker. Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina there was nothing wrong with being another “big ole boy” - especially in the land of fabulous food, sugary teas, and of course never needing an excuse to celebrate with food. Looking back on early class pictures I was always the “big kid” in the back row, not just a tall guy but also “husky.” That was a term I first heard while clothes shopping with my mother.  ”Oh, he won’t fit these clothes, he needs to be looking in the husky section.” Being a young child and ignorant to the rest of the world’s issues, I didn’t know this would be telling of how the world viewed “big kids.” Nowadays this “husky” word would be replaced by another phrase something more damning with heavier (no pun intended) connotations: “obese” or even scarier “childhood obesity.” With no states in the union with an obesity rate lower than 25% currently, it’s no wonder the childhood obesity rates follow their parents’ lead. In 1980 (a year before I was born) there was no state in the US with an adult obesity rate of 15% or more.

South Carolina & Childhood Obesity

With South Carolina continually being ranked among the top ten states in obesity and diabetes, it seems we’ve taken the approach of many other states of “lots of talk” and little action or follow through. Coupled with increasing lack of resources in rural, predominantly minority communities, lack of adequate access to whole local grown foods, and increased cultural apathy the problems continue to compound and grow. Our own state governor has declared a “war on fat” in South Carolina, addressed with all the traditional actions we’ve seen on other declared “war” movements, e.g. on drugs and homelessness. In short, in my opinion there are lots of grandiose ideas and good talking points, but very little follow through or action steps.

image

Langston Moore Eat2Win Football (FUN)damental Camp

I noticed that our NFL and Collegiate teammates (many from SC that we looked up to) are being impacted by same health issues nationwide, some even dying before the ages of 45. We reached out to our football/sports brethren to create the change we wanted to see. This has led to our tribe to create the Langston Moore Eat2Win football (FUN)damental camp and health combine.

Read More

Friends Don’t Let Friends Be Sedentary

Blog submitted by IHRSA

In a recent essay titled, “The Tribe Or The Person,” famed marketing guru, Seth Godin, asks, “are you trying to change an individual or are you trying to incite/inspire/redirect the tribe?”

The question is critical for any change agent, according to Godin, and the two answers should lead to very different approaches.

“If you focus on individuals,” he writes, “then the rule is: treat different people differently.”

“On the other hand, many marketers deal with culture. You put something into the world and it won’t work until it ‘catches on’. The goal is to catch on with the herd. Catching on isn’t a 1:1 private transaction. It’s a group phenomenon…”

What lessons can we, as physical activity advocates, draw from this framework of behavior change strategy? Most of us do not hold marketing degrees, but we are quite clearly attempting to “market” physical activity in some way. Are most physical activity promotions tailored and targeted to a specific audience (including an audience of 1) or do they tend to be more generalized?

Physical activity is notoriously difficult to promote and market. Unlike, say, the soft drink industry, whose marketers compete to sell the highest quantity of a product coveted all over the world for its instant gratification, the marketers of physical activity have to first convince their audience to try the product and actually exert some discomforting effort. Consequently, the percentage of Americans who are physically active has remained relatively constant (and low) for several years, despite a steady flow of research and media stories proclaiming the benefits of exercise.

We need to improve our marketing.

General messages about the benefits of physical activity aren’t good enough at the individual level.  There are over 300 million people living in America and they each have an internal story about who they are, what they do, and why they do it. Convincing an individual to be active often requires a marketer to understand that individual’s internal story: hopes, fears, aspirations, etc. It takes time and the outcome is always in doubt. It’s much easier to market soft drinks.

image

At the cultural level, I am hopeful that some current physical activity marketing campaigns will have a long-term impact. The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, for example, is infused with a collective, “we can do this together” spirit that feels, in this still early stage, like the beginning of a cultural shift about how we value physical activity (and having an extremely well known, popular, and physically active spokesperson is a nice bonus). Similarly, the “Designed To Move” campaign, championed by Nike and others, is helping to reshape how physical activity programs are delivered and promoted.

But we are still waiting for the big, breakthrough campaign that fundamentally changes the culture from largely inactive to active.

What will be the physical activity version of “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive,” “Give a hoot, don’t pollute,” and “Thank you for not smoking,” etc.?

Those messages created and strengthened social norms: it’s not okay to let your friends drive drunk, it’s not okay to throw trash on the ground, and it’s not okay to make everyone around you smell like a cigarette.

In America today, it is culturally okay to be sedentary.  And it’s okay to remain quiet as a friend experiences deteriorating health due to inactivity.  But should it be?  Should we, as physical activity marketers, strive to make it not okay? What should we do?

Recognizing Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

By YMCA

New data indicating a decline in childhood obesity among preschoolers is good news – but there is still a lot of work to be done. September is “Child Obesity Awareness Month.” Let’s work together to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the No. 1 health concern facing American parents.

One way the Y is addressing this issue is through it’s early childhood and afterschool programs. In late 2011, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) made a commitment, to the First Lady and the Partnership for a Healthier America, to not only be the largest nonprofit provider of early childhood and afterschool programs, but also the healthiest. To keep this promise, YMCA’s across the country have adopted and implemented evidence-based YMCA standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA.) Now Y-USA is encouraging youth and families to integrate components of the HEPA standards into their at-home routine.

Bringing home HEPA—adding a fruit or vegetable at meals and snacks, sharing family-style meals, making water the primary beverage choice, engaging in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and role modeling by parents and caregivers—will surely help families reap the benefits of a healthier home.

One of the key components of HEPA is physical activity. Akin to healthy eating, physical activity must become part of our everyday routine to achieve optimal health benefits. At least an hour of play a day will add significant health benefits, but for many families finding free-time can be challenging. Since busy is the new normal for many, families should take the 3-P approach— Purpose, Prioritize, Plan—to accomplishing their physical activity needs.  

PurposePhysical activity isn’t just for people who compete in athletics, are concerned with their physiques, or have time. Everyone needs activity at different levels.

Prioritize: Physical activity, like brushing teeth, must simply become part of normal day-to-day activities; not an afterthought.

Plan: A family activity plan will help add accountability to the family’s physical activity goals and make it easier to stay on track. The family should plan to revisit, and revise this plan if necessary, as the hustle bustle of the school year takes way; and break up the time if needed, as long as it adds up to an hour, it counts!

Focus on FUN, play first! Don’t be afraid to swap some study time for playtime. Most kids will love to put aside their homework and play with their family and it’s been proven that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic success. Remember, kids who burn more, learn more.

Moderate-to-vigorous activities such as walking to and from work and school, racing to the bus stop, biking, playing tag, jumping rope, commercial break fitness bursts, or after-dinner dance parties are FUN ways to insert physical activity into your daily routine. Not sure which activities are moderate or vigorous? The CDC offers a useful 0 to 10 guide to help you measure your physical activity intensity level.

Increasing physical activity is one of many healthy habits that can be adopted by families to encourage a healthier future. Visit YMCA’s Healthy Family Home for free resources to support your family’s physical activity goals and visit COAM to learn more about Child Obesity Awareness Month.  What are you doing to help families bring HEPA home?