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 in specific settings

Keep an Active Piece of Summer in Your Heart

Guest post from Dorothea Vafiadis, MS, FAHA, Director of Healthy Living at the American Heart Association

Why do we sometimes get the blues at the end of summer? Is it because of the long, hot days beating down and drying out the landscape? Watching the days shorten and the mornings and evenings darken? Or is it the anticipation of giving up the casual summer clothes and vacation activities, and thinking ahead to tighter routines?

It’s natural to think of summer as a freer, more active time. But, as fall approaches and back to school mode creeps in, we don’t have to give up on the fun or abandon our physical activity routines. We can do ourselves a favor, and plan now to take the aspects of summer that we like and integrate them year round into a regular pattern for a healthy lifestyle and a healthier heart.

It’s important to exercise regularly, because the effects of exercise ebb away once physical activity stops. Most studies suggest many of the key benefits are lost in four to six weeks of inactivity.  So, keep that physical activity going and don’t let the blues cut your summer short or take a toll on your heart health.

What activities have been fun for you this summer? Motivation is a key consideration in keeping up an exercise routine. Having a workout partner also helps many people adhere to their physical activity plans. If you enjoyed that summer walk, picnic softball game or swim with the kids, think about ways to continue similar activities into the fall. Research has shown that people will be motivated more to participate in physical activity if it’s something they enjoy, feels like a positive experience and helps them feel relaxed or reduce tensions.

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Get Active, Stay Hydrated!

Written by the NEA Health Information Network

After the Polar Vortex that seemed to never want to end, summer is just around the corner! If you’re like us, you probably can’t wait to head outdoors and shake off those winter blues.

Who says that resolutions are only for January? Set a fitness goal to accomplish by summer’s end! Summer’s longer daylight hours make it easier to wake up early and get moving, or to get in a brisk walk after work.

STAY HYDRATED

Before you head out the door, be sure to grab two things: sunscreen and water.

Popular to contrary belief, you don’t need fancy sports drinks to hydrate while being active. Did you know that the average sports drink has nearly nine teaspoons of added sugar? That’s more than the daily suggested sugar limit for kids and teens!

Water is refreshing and free – and it does a great job keeping you hydrated while you’re on the move.

#WhyGetActive

Written by IHRSA

When it comes to promoting the health benefits of physical activity to Americans, we need to stop thinking in terms of “awareness.” Polls indicate that Americans have heard the message. And in a culture that feeds on controversy, the notion that exercise is good for health remains one of the last points of consensus, at least in broad strokes.

But, still, too few Americans live healthy, active lives. Evidence indicating that exercise can prevent or mitigate nearly every major disease is simply not persuasive enough.  Even appealing to vanity – “hey, you’ll look better” – barely moves the needle, if at all, over the long run.

IHRSA believes that exercise is a highly individualized pursuit fueled by personal motivations and emotions that go well beyond the prospect of disease prevention.

Sure, the prospect of warding off cancer or diabetes plays a significant role, but the more important motivator is “why” we want to ward off cancer or diabetes.

For some, the “why” might be a child or loved one, a career, the feeling of waking up with energy, or even just the age old fear of sickness.

The motivations are endless and timeless.

And those motivations inspired IHRSA to launch a social media campaign, #WhyGetActive, in conjunction with National Physical Fitness & Sports Month.

The goal of the campaign—which revolves around everyday people sharing their answers on social media to the question, “Why do you Get Active?” – is to provide a platform for sharing individual motivations and encouraging inactive people to find their own.

To see the power of #WhyGetActive in action, simply visit whygetactive.org.

Though the campaign was begun by IHRSA, we hope to see the movement take on a life and spirit of its own as individuals and organizations adopt #WhyGetActive with the common goal in mind: To foster a culture of wellness, where physically active lifestyles are encouraged, supported, and easy to sustain.

Visit whygetactive.org for more information, to see what others are doing with their #WhyGetActive posts, and to learn how you can share your message as part this campaign for a healthier, more active world.

The basic “how to” directions are to either write on a whiteboard or a PDF template why you pursue an active life. Take a photo and share on social media using the hashtag #WhyGetActive. Or share a photo of yourself doing a favorite type of exercise using the #WhyGetActive hashtag. Ask your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.

The Doctor (and Ranger) Will See You Now

Guest Post from the Institute at the Golden Gate

In the past decade, rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases have skyrocketed in children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that more than one-third of adults in the United States—more than 72 million people—are considered medically obese and therefore more likely to develop major chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Lack of physical activity and poor diet has been established as the causes of an unhealthy, overweight nation. The CDC estimates that more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is sedentary.

The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle require action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized, low-cost healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem. There is a growing consensus that nature has many health benefits, from increased physical activity to mental, emotional, and community health benefits.  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we help convene an initiative called Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area (HPHP: Bay Area) that fulfills a clear need to increase access to parks and develop them as health resources for the whole family—especially those in the highest health need communities.

Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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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?

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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