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Be Active Your Way Blog

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February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

Decreasing Sedentary Behavior and Physical Inactivity by Moving More and Sitting Less

by NCPAD January 30, 2013

The True Meaning of Sedentary

The start of a new year sparks considerable conversation on losing weight, exercising more, and eating a healthier diet. While these are great stepping stones to leading a healthier lifestyle, they may not be enough to ward off chronic health conditions and mortality. Recent research findings are revealing that sitting too much during the day can be detrimental to an individual's health regardless of whether or not they meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Today's society is consumed with advanced technology and a focus on convenience, which ultimately contributes to sedentary lifestyles among Americans. Fortunately, this sedentary lifestyle can be counteracted by adding in more movement throughout the day.

Health of People with Disabilities

There are approximately 54 million Americans with some type of disability. This amounts to about 20% of the population. Many consider health and disability and oxymoron, but in fact, persons with disabilities can lead healthy, active lifestyles when given the appropriate inclusive environment to succeed. The rate of obesity is far greater for both children and adults with disabilities than for the general population. 56% of people with disabilities do not engage in any leisure time physical activity, and 87% of people with disabilities experience at least one secondary condition. Self-reported health status is classified as poor in 37% of persons with disabilities compared to 8% in persons without disabilities. Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior is a national epidemic, but noticed more particularly in persons with disabilities due to few health professionals promoting regular physical activity for persons with disabilities, and a lack of community and health promotion programs inclusive of persons with disabilities. In order to develop a healthy, inclusive community, health messaging must include persons with disabilities. Below are strategies for creating an action plan to combat sedentary behavior and physical inactivity for everyone by adding movement in to the daily routine.

An Action Plan for Everyone

Simple adjustments to the daily routine can help make activity a default versus just an option. Get going and move more for an overall better health status.

In the workplace

  1. If you are able to, try actively communiting to work by riding a bike or walking/wheeling. Inclusive communities that utilize Complete Streets are a win-win for everyone!
  2. Make sure to always have a bottle of water at your desk. This will put you one step closer to achieving your recommended daily amount of water intake and will force you to have to get up to go to the bathroom.
  3. Try walking/wheeling meetings instead of seated ones. The activity might just spark some new found creativity!
  4. Utilize your lunch break for physical activity. Cut your lunch break in half so the other half can be filled with some kind of exercise. Midday activity helps you to wake up your brain, and may help to avoid that 2:00 p.m. burnout. Physical activity options include starting a walking club with coworkers or going to your local gym for a midday group fitness class.
  5. Pace around your office while on a conference call.
  6. Instead of emailing a co-worker, get up from your desk and converse in person.

In daily life

  1. A pedometer is a great tool to monitor physical activity throughout the day. Achieving 10,000 steps may not be appropriate for everyone, so wear your pedometer to track movement on day one to achieve a baseline, and aim to increase that baseline each day.
  2. Pets are great life companions and assets to your health. Take Fido for a walk daily to fit in some extra activity.
  3. There is no shame in having a favorite television show, but try moving around the house or cleaning up while watching. You can also do simple exercises during commercial breaks, such as crunches, squats, or push-ups.
  4. Almost any chore can be turned into a heart-pumping activity. Turn on some upbeat music and get working.
  5. Take advantage of family time together on the weekends, and find a park to play in, a fun race to enter, or simply take a stroll or bike ride around the neighborhood together.

The Big Picture

Aside from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommended amount of physical activity per week, it is imperative that individuals simply move more throughout the day to reduce sedentary behavior and its associated health detriments. The Physical Activity Pyramid is a great way to start assessing daily movement levels in all individuals. Looking at physical activity in these categories makes it seem more attainable and included as a factor in every person's life. Now take a stand for a better health by moving more and getting active!

Start the Year Off Right with a Commitment to Health

by ACSM January 16, 2013

A newfound - or renewed - commitment to health is a common sentiment each year after the holiday season of sweet treats, calorie-laden cocktails and scarce free time to stick to a fitness routine. Year after year, many people resolve to lose weight, get fit and be healthier, using the turn of a new year as motivation to turn over a new leaf. Many resolutions, made with the best of intentions, are broken almost before the New Year's Eve confetti is cleaned up, and few last until spring.

The keys to lifelong healthy habits include:

  • Setting realistic expectations, based on a knowledge of the facts and of your own goals, motivation and lifestyle
  • Building physical activity into your daily life and following healthy eating habits
  • Understanding that you will have lapses, plateaus and changes of circumstance that need not derail your overall progress
  • Knowing where to turn for factual information and personal support

Enjoyable alternatives offer healthy activity

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes (or 2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. If you're not currently physically active, this might be a great time to return to an activity you loved in the past or to get involved with a team sport. Not competitive? Don't like to run? A dance-based fitness class or yoga might be for you. Don't forget that consulting a certified trainer, exercise physiologist, or medical professional is always an important step before starting a new fitness program.

Cost need not be a concern

Financial constraints also weigh heavy on the minds of many as the new year begins. However, being healthy and fit doesn't require an expensive investment. Body weight training, or exercise that uses the body as resistance instead of equipment, was the most upwardly mobile activity on ACSM's 2013 fitness trends forecast. Body weight training can be done anywhere, including at home, and doesn't require a financial investment.

Beyond being buff - staying healthy throughout life

A desire to be fit isn't all about vanity. The most common diseases plaguing our world today are diseases caused by sedentary lifestyle - like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, among others. Our daily lives are becoming increasingly scheduled around sitting: sitting at work, sitting in the car during long commutes, and sitting in the evening in front of the television. Committing to a healthy lifestyle not only can help you look good and feel good, but can keep the doctor away too.

For further reading on this topic, visit: "New Year, New Fitness Habits."

Look Past Clever Ads to Find Fun Family Physical Activity Opportunities

by ACSM December 12, 2012

Marketing: A Powerful Force

Families are inundated with powerful and noisy advertisements in the fields of health and fitness, many suggesting get-fit-quick products. Fitness and sports marketing may lead us to believe we can get six-pack abs through a new exercise device or that a certain pair of shoes will make us play like the pros... if only that were true!

As effective as these ads may be, they often leave the customer disappointed and frustrated with the results, or lack thereof. In addition to quick-fix disappointments, we constantly see ads for junk food via TV, radio, billboards, Internet, etc. Everywhere we look, there is temptation and the lure of a quick, family-pleasing meal.

How can families combat the marketing influencers and build a healthy lifestyle that will stick?

Fight Back for Physical Activity

The answer is simple: be active as a family, and talk about healthy lifestyles. Incorporating physical activity into busy family life doesn't have to be expensive, time-consuming or difficult. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that children should be active for 60 minutes per day and adults should be active for 150 minutes per week. This can be as easy as walking or jogging, or as fun as shooting hoops or playing capture the flag. Parents can take part in family bonding activities while staying in shape, like taking a 20-30 minute to walk with their children after dinner or before school.

The American College of Sports Medicine's 2013 Health and Fitness Trends predict that 2013 will bring in many easy and economically friendly activities, such as body weight training. Make a goal to try at least four of the activities on the trend list - and see what works best for you and your family.

It's also important to talk together about the need to eat healthy meals and get regular physical activity. Children should learn to consider the sources of nutritional or exercise information they receive and to make judgments about what to believe and what advice to follow.

Marketers may be savvy by convincing us that we must have the latest product for a healthy life or fit physique. However, setting realistic goals, creating a schedule for fitness activities, and sharing solid information and goals can help families develop truly healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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