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: other

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.

What To Eat Before You Go To The Gym

Written by IHRSA

image

Deciding what to eat day to day can be challenging. Choosing the best thing to eat – a meal that will give you energy to get in a good workout without making you feel too full, sick, or hungry – before you head to the gym can be even more challenging. Every workout is different, so how you fuel up for each one will be different too. You probably wouldn’t eat the same breakfast before an hour on the treadmill as you would before a yoga class.

Nutrients You Need

The two main nutrients your body needs prior to a workout are carbohydrates and protein.

Carbohydrates are the most readily available form of energy and provide fuel for the body. Eating enough carbohydrates before you workout will provide the energy needed to complete the workout. On the other hand, not eating enough could mean you hit the wall before your spin class is over. This can result in a less effective workout, and who wants to get less out of their workout if they made the effort to get to the gym in the first place?

Protein helps prevent hunger from setting in during the workout.

Nutrients to Avoid (Or Eat Less Of)

Within 2-3 hours of a workout it is a good idea to avoid high fat and high fiber foods (like pizza or cruciferous veggies like broccoli). Both of these foods take longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates. Too much fat too close to a workout can leave you feeling full, almost like exercising with a stone in your stomach, and too much fiber can cause upset stomach or stomach cramping, especially during higher impact exercise like running.

What Are The Best Foods?

It is important to eat a meal or snack higher in carbohydrates and moderate in protein before a workout. Carbohydrates should be easy to digest and familiar to you. If you’re just starting out and don’t know what works best for you, try out a few things on shorter or middle distance workouts. Try easily digested carbohydrates like apples, and dried fruit with lean protein like lower sodium deli meat, chicken breast, or jerky. Protein should come from lean sources like chicken, deli meat, or jerky. Also watch out for “protein bars” as the may have more fiber and fat than is optimal.

Pre Workout Meal Ideas

If your pre workout meal is breakfast -  try 2 eggs, 2 slices of Canadian bacon, 1 8 oz glass of OJ, and 1 banana.

If your pre workout meal is lunch – try a whole wheat sandwich with 3 ounces grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and any other vegetables, and an apple.

If your pre workout meal is a snack – try a Greek yogurt, or if you only have an hour, a piece of fruit.

What do you like to eat before you hit the gym?

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?

Think and Grow Healthy: What Napoleon Hill Can Teach Us About Healthy Behaviors

By IHRSA

We’ve written previously about the importance of making the healthy choice, not only the easy choice, but also the happy choice. This approach emphasizes the role that supportive environments can play in inducing healthy behaviors. We’ve also addressed the impact of social circles and support networks.

Each one of those posts discussed external factors that may influence a person’s decision to pursue a healthier and more active lifestyle.

image

But true behavior change requires something internal; a motivation strong enough to persevere.

In the depths of the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill published the business classic, “Think and Grow Rich,”which still consistently ranks as one of the greatest self-help/business books.

It It is a book, largely, about self-empowerment. It asserts that circumstance can be overcome by focus and determination. Despite having been published more than 75 years ago, there is a joyful, almost celebratory message that seems perfectly in place alongside more modern texts about the self-empowering forces of the web-based economy.

The book offers 13 principles of success based on his observations of 40 wealthy individuals, Sure, external forces matter, a lot, but humans are capable of achieving great heights, regardless of environment. The “starting point of all achievement,” according to Hill, is desire.

Hill offers 6 practical steps for turning desire into riches. I think they provide an excellent blueprint for any type of endeavor. Here are those 6 practical steps. Lightly edited, with the word “money” replaced with the words “physical activity.”

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of physical activity you desire.
  2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for physical activity you desire (there is no such reality as “something for nothing.”)
  3. Establish a definite date when you intend to achieve the physical activity level you desire.
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once - whether you are ready or not - to put this plan into action.
  5. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of physical activity you intend to pursue, name the time limit for achieving the amount, state what you intend to give in return for the amount of physical activity, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning.

What do you think? Would these six steps help folks lead a healthier, more active life? What else would you suggest?

In coming months: What role can social networks play in developing an individual’s desire for a healthier, more active life?

And, lastly, I would be remiss if I did not note that the wise and successful Napoleon Hill also listed “lack of proper physical exercise” in his section about the major causes of failure…