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: physical activity

Building Healthy, Inclusive Communities for All

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

Community Health Inclu­sion, a term that describes disability-friendly environments where people with disabilities have access to the same programs and services associated with being as physically active and eating as well as the rest of the community.

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Many communities across the country have participated in a change process to improve the health and health outcomes of their communities, yet more and equal effort is required to address the health barriers and needs of people with disabilities.  Research shows that the estimated 56 million Americans with disabilities are not only at greater risk of developing serious health conditions associated with sedentary lifestyles, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but also face greater environmental barriers that inhibit their access. Coupled with health promotion initiatives that are inaccessible and seldom target improving the health of people with disabilities, the low activity status of people with disabilities is a concern. The lack of guidance and translation of inclusive practices makes this an issue of public health concern. 

During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association observes National Public Health Week.  This is a time to recognize and highlight successes and areas of need for improving our nation’s health.  This year is a focus on guiding communities through the evolving public health system with the theme “Public Health: Start Here.”  As this week sparks discussion and action towards the evolving public health systems to improve the health and wellness of the entire community, we invite you to embrace the term Community Health Inclusion.  A well-planned, livable community is one that makes the right choice the easy choice by including people of all abilities!

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Dear Area Doc - Let’s Not Be Awkward Anymore

Written by IHRSA

Hey Doc,

We need to talk.

Your patients are sedentary and overweight, and they want to do something about it.

We should be communicating, discussing club programs that would help your patients, and collaborating on initiatives to improve the health of the community.

We know that you know that research has long shown that a healthy, physical active lifestyle can help your patients with prevention and management of several chronic conditions, boost mood, and extend quality life years

And we know you’re busy with your patients and your paperwork, and that you’re trying like crazy to keep up with the rapidly transforming health care system (like that new electronic health record software in your office..,) but an exercise prescription only takes like 30 seconds to fill.

Your patients need to exercise; we provide safe and supportive environments for exercise. Let’s talk!

We know you have questions:

“How do I know your facility is safe for my patients?”

“How will you make my patients, many who have been sedentary for a long time, comfortable in your facility?”

“Do your staff people know what they are talking about?”

We’d love to give you answers.

Are you worried about the cost of attending our facilities?

Consider this…

The average cost of non-insulin prescription diabetes medication is $1,423 per year. If a patient eliminated his or her need for prescription medications like Metformin through diet and exercise, he or she would save enough money to purchase two health club memberships per year.

And depending on the drug and dose required, a lower risk patient who needs statin drugs to lower his or her cholesterol and reduce his or her risk of heart disease can spend $12 - $153 on these drugs per month. The cost for higher risk patients can be $63 - $163 per month. There are currently health clubs that cost as little as $10 - $20 per month, and patients who use diet and exercise with the support of a health club to reduce or eliminate their need for statins will see their club membership pay for itself over time.

So, please, take our calls. Or, better yet, come on over and see what we’re all about. Your patients will love us and they will think you are a hero for recommending us.

All the best,

Your Local IHRSA Members

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.

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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.

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What To Eat Before You Go To The Gym

Written by IHRSA

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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?

Four Tips for Staying Active in Winter

Post by: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease Weight-control Information Network

As we’ve watched the Olympics on TV, the weather has sometimes made it hard to keep moving toward our own exercise goals. If you’re not a world-class winter athlete, or can’t stand going out in the cold, how can you stay active in winter? What can you do to keep moving throughout the year?

Here are some tips that may help:

  • Choose activities that are fun. In all seasons, people are more likely to be active if they like what they are doing. In winter, you may enjoy a brisk walk at a local shopping center or a dance class.
  • You can do many activities to strengthen muscles indoors. As the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend, do 2 or more days per week of strengthening activities such as lifting light weights, doing full or modified push-ups, or working with resistance bands (large rubber bands).
  • Keep an activity log to track your progress.
  • If your time is limited, do 10 minutes of exercise at a time. Spread these bursts of activity out throughout the day. Every little bit counts!

Find out more in the Weight-control Information Network’s Better Health and You: Tips for Adults. This brochure suggests physical activity to meet the requirements of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. It also helps readers figure out if their weight is healthy, explains why a healthy weight is important, and describes how to create a plan of healthy eating and drinking. It features a tip sheet people can print and post to remind themselves in all seasons of the importance of regular physical activity, healthy eating and drinking habits, and staying at a healthy weight.

What helps you to stay active during the cold days of winter?

National Physical Activity Plan: Looking Ahead

Post by NPAP

Since its launch nearly four years ago, the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) has acted as a roadmap to policy makers and advocates to create a more physically active nation. The NPAP is a document comprised of 240+ evidence-based recommendations for change in the policies and systems that guide the environments in which we live, work, learn, play, and commute.

There was early recognition that the success of the NPAP would hinge upon both successful implementation and evaluation of the evidenced-based recommendations highlighted throughout the plan. Additionally, in order to reflect the current state of the science, it was recognized that the NPAP should undergo periodic revisions and updates.

The field of physical activity and public health continues to evolve. In recent years, numerous policies and legislation supporting physical activity have been proposed and/or implemented at the national, state, and local levels. In conjunction with on-going research in areas including physical activity behavior, measurement, and policy, the time to review the NPAP’s content and structure is rapidly approaching.

Ultimately, the NPAP will reach success when the vast majority of Americans regularly meet or surpass the Physical Activity Guidelines. So how do we get there? What strategies and tactics do you think need to be added to the current version of the plan? What strategies should be identified as high priority during the revision? And most importantly, how can we incorporate these changes and make the plan more user-friendly and successful?

If you have ideas for ways in which the content of the National Physical Activity Plan could be improved, please send those ideas to us.

5 Reasons to Believe We Will Be More Active in the Future

Post by IHRSA

Last month, we noted in this space that only 1 in 5 Americans self-reported enough physical activity to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines. And given the optimistic leanings of most self-reporting, we might assume the number is much lower. Even our kids, who seem born wired to run and play, are predominantly sedentary.

So, is this it for Americans? Have we permanently engineered physical activity out of our culture? Will we simply continue our long journey toward inertia?

I don’t believe so.

I believe the ship is starting to turn around.

In March 2014, the fitness industry will convene for its largest annual American gathering at IHRSA’s 33rd Annual International Convention & Trade Show in San Diego, CA.  It is an industry town hall of sorts, where innovation and ideas mix for three frenetic days and then spread to all corners of the globe. What happens at IHRSA, most certainly does not stay at IHRSA.

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The convention agenda naturally reflects the fitness trends and promising new approaches to increasing physical activity. 

In many ways, it’s like looking into a crystal ball for what’s next.

I’m always particularly interested in the convention sessions that focus on how to use health club facilities to reach the 80% of the population who aren’t exercising regularly.

Here are 5 sessions generating buzz that make me believe we will be more active in the future:

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