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 and life stage

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.

10 Ways to Be Active during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Written by the Weight-control Information Network

May is the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Celebrate by building habits to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines—or, if you have these habits, by keeping up the good work. The warmer, sunnier weather of spring may make it easier to fit activity into your day and try new kinds of exercise.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers ideas to help people of all ages start physical activity and make it part of their routine. Here are some tips for adults:

  • Mix it up. Try a new activity each day like dancing or planting a garden to find out what you enjoy most.
  • Make it social. Meet a friend for workouts, or train together for a charity event. Join a class or sports league where people count on you to show up.
  • Move more with your kids. No matter what age your kids are, find an activity you can do together. Dance to music, take a walk, run around the park, or play basketball or soccer.
  • Fit it in. Add a daily 15-minute walk during your lunch break or after dinner. If your schedule allows and you can do so safely near home or work, taking a walk may help you clear your head.
  • Don’t break the bank. If you’re on a budget, try activities that don’t require special gear. Walking requires a pair of sturdy shoes. To dance, just turn on some music.

Here are some ideas to help teens get and stay active:

  • Get outside. Enjoy outdoor physical activity, such as jumping rope, playing Frisbee or flag football, or skateboarding.
  • Join in. Join a school sports or dance team. Jump into a neighborhood pickup game of basketball or softball.
  • Pitch in. Help keep your community’s sidewalks, sports fields, parks, and athletic centers clean and usable.
  • Be active with friends. Choose group activities such as sports, active games, or walking around a public park.
  • Sit less. Watching TV, gaming, and surfing the web are fun but inactive, so spend less time in front of the screen.

Find more tips and information in WIN’s Tips to Help You Get Active and, for teens, the tip sheet Get Moving! Tips to Help You Get Active offers tips to help readers become more physically active, overcome barriers to activity, and stay motivated. Get Moving! suggests ways teens can get and stay active both indoors and outdoors. It is based on the longer booklet Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers, which is available in English and Spanish.

Check out healthfinder.gov’s page on National Physical Fitness and Sports Month for reasons to be active, ideas for helping others get more exercise, and sample messages to send through email or social media and post to your blog or other website. 

Have you tried a fun new kind of exercise this spring—something you’ve never done before? What did you do?

Getting the Balance Right

Post by Colin Milner, Founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging®

Does your center or community have a yoga studio or personal-training area? If so, odds are that you offer these programs because of growing demand or as a new way to meet your clients’ needs. With the youngest Boomers celebrating their 50th birthday this year—and exponential growth in older age groups for many years to come—many new opportunities are available to support health and wellness. One such opportunity is a “balance center.”

Why balance?

What is a balance center, and why should you consider adding one? A balance center offers you the ability to address a significant need in the older-adult population—one that will only become more pressing given today’s changing demographics. Consider the picture in the United States, for example:

•  One in every three people older than 65 will fall this year.

•  Approximately half the age 65-plus individuals who have fallen will fall again in the next 12 months.

•  Strength- and balance-training programs could reduce the number of falls by up to 40%.

Few older adults have their balance screened by a physician prior to a fall despite the fact that many have a higher fall risk due to changes linked with aging. Yet falls can cause life-altering injuries or death. Even when individuals avoid injury in a fall, the fear associated with falling again can lead to social isolation, depression and a downward spiral in health. So falls have immense emotional and financial effects on older adults and their families and caregivers.

By addressing this issue with a balance center, you can expand your reach and tap into more than 30% of the age 65-plus market—all while helping individuals reduce fall risk, maintain independence and improve quality of life.

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How to Energize Your Aging Programs

Fatigue can be debilitating. Here’s how you can help your clients boost their energy levels and get back into top form.

By Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging

Whether due to poor sleep patterns, not getting enough exercise, taking care of children and/or parents, poor nutrition, long work hours, drug interactions, stress, depression or a myriad of other issues, the fact is that most adults are in search of energy. And, for your facility, energy-boosting solutions are not just a big idea, they are also big bucks.

Two industries responding to the energy issue are the roughly $32 billion sleep industry, and the $12.5 billion energy drink industry. How are you responding to this opportunity?

Find the source

Before you and your team become energy boosters “and imagine the fun you can have marketing this,” remember this simple fact: To solve a problem, you must know from where it stems. The question becomes, then, what is causing your clients to have low energy levels? Is it hours worked, poor sleep habits, medication interaction, food consumption or lack of it, caffeine intake, depression or disease?

Once you have established why they are tired, you will know where to begin, and whether to create a support team that includes a medical professional, nutritionist, lifestyle coach, schedule organizer, personal trainer or other professionals who can help you create a comprehensive energy-boosting program.

A battery of programs
Your energy-boosting program needs to be multifaceted to address the wide array of issues your clients could be facing. The following are a few typical causes of low energy:

Stress or depression. To reduce stress levels, offer your clients breathing and meditation classes, in-the-moment programming, humor workshops, and/or behavioral modification classes or sessions. You may want to bring in experts to address depression or other mental health issues.

Chronic health issues and/or fatigue from medication interaction. Arrange a time to review your clients’ health status. If you find issues such as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, be sure to work with his or her health professional to encourage participation, monitor progress and address prescription drug interactions. The goal is to increase energy while reducing dependence on the medications.

Lack of sleep. Fatigue risk management is the buzz term used by marketers to describe the level of tiredness at work, and the effect this could have on a company’s bottom line. Another term making the rounds is “destination napping.” This new program can offer exhausted clients a sleep room or a sleep pod that can have customized lighting, sound (relaxing music, environmental sounds), purified air, aromatherapy, etc. Of course, what would a good nap be without a soft cashmere blanket?

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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?

Constructing Functional Environments for Older Adults

By ICAA

The environment(s) that we build or live in are vital to enhancing our quality of life and our life experiences. Environments can encourage, or discourage, people of all ages to lead an active, engaged life. When it comes to creating compelling environments for your older consumer, think about how to design and build them so they are inclusive of all people and their abilities.

One place to start is with a visioning process. Bring together your staff, consumers, vendors and key partners to share their thoughts on your current or proposed settings, and what they feel will make the environment more compelling. Many times it can be the little things that make a difference. From the colors you choose, to ease of use, and creativity to inclusiveness, how you incorporate details matters.

Another strategic approach is to hire a group of older adults to visit your current place of business and those of your competitors. Ask them to write down what they liked and what they did not. Did the lighting make it easy to see? How were the bathrooms and locker rooms? Did the front desk, fitness areas, café, and so on enhance the experience or detract from it, and why? What would they change to make the environment more engaging? Once you have gained this market intelligence, create a large storyboard where recommendations, pictures and more can be placed in full view of your staff. (A meeting room or office area is the best location.) Start the process of improvement, and don’t stop until you have addressed everything on the board. Then ask the same group to walk through your location again. What are their reactions now? This simple method can help you create a compelling, inclusive, and ageless environment for your business.

A thought to ponder: Environments provide experiences, good and bad, and good experiences create memories that bring consumers back. How will you make your environment(s) compelling?