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

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Written by Karen Mueller, PT, DPT, PhD, Chair of the Hospice and Palliative Care Special Interest Group, APTA Oncology Section

With the approach of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on October 11, it is the perfect time to recognize the important role physical activity can play for this often-underserved population, and to note the wealth of information that is available online.

Studies of patients who are in hospice care suggest that desire to maintain a level of activity does not diminish at the end of life. In fact, most of these patients state that the ability to walk, sit up, and function independently in the bathroom are of great importance to their quality of life.

To promote the value of activity in patients at the end of life, the American Physical Therapy Association Hospice and Palliative Care Special Interest Group (APTA HPC-SIG) was formed in 2008. It provides the public with information and emerging research findings that support the value of activity. APTA HPC-SIG represents more than 60 physical therapists (PTs) practicing in hospice and palliative care settings that include hospitals, home health, and assisted living centers. These PTs promote the value of activity through community and professional-group presentations, published research, and web-based education.

The APTA HPC -SIG website offers members’ insights, as well as links to organizations with the same goals, including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Jake, a 60-year-old rancher with terminal brain tumor, was a poignant example of the desire to remain active.  He wanted to be able to walk to his dining room table for a final Thanksgiving with his family. After a few physical therapy sessions involving gait training with a walker, Jake achieved this important goal, and died peacefully 3 days later.


The baby boomer generation is a vigorous population whose desire for physical activity is not likely to diminish at the end of life. There never has been a better time to promote activity throughout the lifespan. APTA HPC-SIG is proud to help lead this effort, which can mitigate health care costs while improving quality of life.

Active Kids Do Better: A Win-Win for All

Written by Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

As the buzzer sounds on another sizzling summer, kids across America are getting back in the game and gearing up for another school year. Now, instead of days filled with swimming, biking, climbing trees and playing, most kids will spend six to seven hours each day within school walls. 

The primary focus of schools is to help students learn and develop foundational skills and knowledge to succeed in life. But with the increasing demands and pressures of improving standardized test scores and grade point averages are we defeating these goals by eliminating or significantly restricting the time students are physically active throughout the school day?

When it comes to the school environment, the latest research shows that increased physical activity and improved academic outcomes don’t have to be an either-or-proposition. In fact, physical activity and academic success go hand and hand – a true win-win for all.

Physical activity not only helps kids stay healthy, it can also lead to higher test scores, improved attendance, better behavior in class and lower rates of childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), school-aged youth should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to reap these benefits.

That’s why the President’s Council is proud to serve as the federal lead for Let’s Move! Active Schools – a comprehensive school-based physical activity program that will help make physical activity the new norm for schools. Let’s Move! Active Schools encourages schools to develop a culture in which physical activity and physical education are foundational to academic success.

Powered by a national collaboration of leading health and education organizations, Let’s Move! Active Schools streamlines the selection of programs, resources, professional development and funding opportunities, and delivers a customized action plan – making it simple for teachers and administrators to implement.

Across the nation, we are starting to see positive changes take hold. Bower Hill Elementary School in Venetia, Pennsylvania is a powerful example. Recently, the school started a walking program that quickly grew into a marathon challenge, where teachers and their students attempted to walk a marathon over the course of the year, leading up to participation in the final mile at the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon.

To learn how you, too, can be a “game-changer” for your school, sign up to be a champion for Active Schools at www.letsmoveschools.org.  For more information about the learning connection between regular physical activity and academic performance, visit http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/health_and_academics/.

Help Children and Teens Get an Active Start to the School Year

Written by the NIH Weight-Control Information Network

For many, September marks the start of a new school year. It is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This observance is especially important in the United States, where about one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese. With extra weight in young people linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, many people may want to help youth improve their health throughout the year.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers these ideas for helping an overweight child:

  • Set a good example. Show your child that you are physically active and enjoy what you do.
  • Be active together as a family. Assign active chores, such as making beds, sweeping, or vacuuming. Plan active outings, like a walk through a local park.
  • Encourage your child to join a sports team or class, such as basketball, dance, or soccer, at school or at your local community or recreation center.
  • If your child feels uncomfortable playing sports, help him or her find physical activities that are fun and not competitive, such as playing tag, jumping rope, or riding a bike.

For teens, WIN offers these tips:

  • Be physically active for 60 minutes a day. It’s fine if you can’t do it all at once! You can be active for as little as 10 minutes at a time, spread throughout the day.
  • Walk or bike to school if you live nearby and can safely do so.
  • Between classes, stand up and walk around, even if your next subject is in the same room.
  • Choose activities you like. Try running, playing flag football, or having a dance party with friends.

Find more ideas for helping kids in WIN’s Helping Your Overweight Child. Also available in Spanish, this brochure offers tips for parents and other caregivers to support an overweight child while also helping her or him to be healthy. Along with ideas to help your child be more active, it features lists of healthy snacks and tips to help your child consume healthy foods and beverages each day.

For the teen in your life, check out WIN’s Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers, also available in Spanish. This booklet gives teens basic facts about regular physical activity and healthy food and beverage choices and offers practical tips they can use in everyday life.

Have you done something that worked to encourage kids and teens to get more physical activity? What did you do?

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.

Read More

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?

Read More