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Be Active Your Way Blog

February Blog Theme

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:

Speaking Up for Physical Activity

by NPAP May 25, 2011

In all likelihood, if you are reading this blog, you're already well aware of the myriad of benefits associated with being regularly physically active, and you likely meet or exceed federal physical activity guidelines. What you may be less aware of are the ways in which you can become a voice for physical activity promotion in your community, so that your neighbors, colleagues, and friends can also realize the benefits of being more active.

Maybe you've noticed that physical education is no longer required in your children's school, that there are unsafe sidewalks in your town, or no bike racks where you work, while others never give you thought to such issues. As an individual, what can you do? With May being National Physical Activity Month, you can use the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) to become a voice for change that echoes for months to come.

The NPAP is a document comprised of recommendations for changes in the environments in which we live, work, play, travel, and learn, such that they better support physical activity. Most of the recommendations made in the NPAP are written with policymakers in mind. Maybe as an employer, school board member, or parent, you are policymaker, with the ability to alter an environment so that it's easier for others to be more active. If so, the buck may start and stop with you. But maybe you're not a policymaker, what then? Then, you can become a voice for change, an informed advocate with the power to influence those in position to make change.

With recommendations from across a number of societal sectors - including Education; Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sports; Business and Industry; and Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design - the NPAP is your roadmap for becoming an advocate at local, state, and even national levels.

For example, if you want to be a voice for more physical activity opportunities for youth in your community, approach the local school board or P.T.A. with the information from the Education sector, citing specific recommendations from the NPAP that call for community partnerships that will create such opportunities.

As another example, maybe you know that if there were just more bike lanes and sidewalks where you live, more people could safely walk to the store, or bike to work. Here, you can become an advocate for change at local and state levels by meeting with your elected officials or members of your state's Department of Transportation, armed with "real world" recommendations for change that have been proven effective.

There could not be a better way to celebrate National Physical Activity Month than to model healthy physical activity behavior, while also becoming an educated advocate for physical activity. So please use the Federal PA Guidelines to become or stay a model of healthy behavior, and use the NPAP to become a strong advocate for change to improve the lives of others.

How are you advocating for change?

Activities in May: Celebrating National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

by PCFSN May 19, 2011

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a designation bestowed since 1983 and celebrated by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN). Organizations including schools, public health agencies, and worksites celebrate the month to promote awareness of the value of physical activity in pursuit of happier, healthier, more productive lives. Celebrations and recognition weeks and days throughout May target specific activities or populations, such as:

May 1-7—National Physical Education and Sport Week

May 9-13—National Women's Health Week

May 18—National Employee Health and Fitness Day

May 16-20—National Bike to Work Week

May 20—Bike to Work Day 

The PCFSN kicked off its celebration of the month on Monday, May 9th, at the White House. PCFSN members joined the First Lady on the South Lawn to announce a partnership between the Council, Let’s Move!, Joining Forces, the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) that will provide free fitness club memberships and personal training sessions to immediate family members of actively deployed reservists and National Guard members.

Following the announcement, Council members led a South Lawn Series event for families of National Guard members and reservists who were in attendance for the announcement. The First Lady kicked off the fun, participating with the members and day’s honorees in a series of stations that included an obstacle course, dance and ball toss stations among others. 

The First Lady exercises on teh White House lawn

On Tuesday, May 10th, Council members gathered again for an open meeting. Approximately 120 people came to hear about the Council members’ activities. The afternoon featured presentations from individuals making a difference in physical education and school-based physical activity opportunities in their communities.

After the meeting adjourned, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the board members of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. The Foundation was Congressionally‚Äźchartered in December to help cultivate private sector partnerships and funding for key programs and initiatives of PCFSN.

Such activities may include special initiatives, such as the Million PALA Challenge. Launched last September, promotion and participation in the Million PALA Challenge is picking up steam as President’s Challenge advocates continue to roll out the initiative to their constituents and members.

The month of May presents the perfect opportunity for kids and adults across the country to make their commitment to be regularly active. Sign up at www.millionpalachallenge.org to take on the President’s Challenge and learn to be active your way. 

What are you doing this month to help get America moving?

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Events

Want to Get More Active? Walk Your Dog!

by AOSSM May 18, 2011

Contributed by Dr. David Geier

May is National Physical Activity Month and what better way to celebrate being active than to walk your dog. He'll appreciate it just as much as you will. Obviously strenuous exercise, such as running and other forms of cardiovascular exercise, and sports are are excellent ways to achieve health and meet the activity standards established by the Department of Health and Human Services. But finding simple ways for children and adults to integrate activity into their normal activities might be the best way to get people moving.

A new study published in the March issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health suggests a potentially great idea for all Americans to become more active. The study, presented by Matthew J. Reeves et al., looks at whether owning a dog and walking the dog are associated with increased physical activity. They gathered data from the 2005 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey to try to determine if a relationship existed between owning a dog and physical activity.

The authors found that people who own a dog are more active overall and walk more. Dog owners who take their dogs for walks on average walk about one hour more per week than the one-third of dog owners who don't walk their dogs. Interestingly they also found that younger Americans and the elderly walked their dogs the most and that people with large dogs (weighing over 45 pounds) walked longer than owners of smaller dogs. Finally the study seems to suggest that the benefits of owning a dog, as it pertains to physical activity, may actually be more than just the actual walking, as dog owners seem to be more physically active than non-dog owners in general.

When I heard about this study, I was not terribly surprised. I always like to find easy ideas to stimulate physical activity. For instance, I think it is helpful to take the stairs instead of an elevator when possible. Also, parking at the end of the parking lot away from stores and businesses forces people to walk a little bit more with their normal activities. Owning a dog and walking it are more examples of easy changes to implement.

What this study does not address, but most dog owners will tell you, is that the benefits of having a dog are not just seen with physical activity. Most of my friends who have a dog point out the happiness that comes when their dogs greet them when they get home from work or school. They also love taking their dogs to the park and the beach. So to everyone out there who owns a dog - get outside and walk with your four-legged friend. It just might improve your health too.

What are some other ways to get more active with your four-legged friend?

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