Guest Writer: Debbie Stephenson
NOTE: This was originally posted by Voices into Action: The Families, Food and Health Project
Warmer weather and more daylight makes May a great month to celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, as proclaimed by President Obama. As part of the proclamation, the President said, “I call upon the people of the United States to make daily physical activity, sports participation, and nutrition a priority in their lives.”
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americansrecommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults and 60 minutes for children, at least five days a week.
If physical activity sounds too intimidating, try thinking about it in terms of just moving more! For example, when you go to the bank, do you go to the drive through or do you actually get out of the car and walk in? Do you take the stairs or an elevator? Do you drive around until you find the closest parking spot at the store or do you park further away and add some steps to your day? These are just simple ways to move more.
Benefits of moving more include reduced feelings of stress, improved self-esteem, improved bone, muscle and joint health, weight control, and reduced risk for some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. While there are many benefits, it is best to consult your doctor about your exercise plans.
It is suggested that we include aerobic, strength building and flexibility activities when we move more. Aerobic activity increases your heart rate and makes you breathe harder. Aerobic activities include walking, riding a bike, jogging, swimming, or dancing. Make time on your weekly calendar for aerobic activity on 3-5 days for 30-60 minutes at a time.
Strength building improves your muscle strength. You can do activities such as push-ups and squats that involve only your body weight. Or you can use household items such as cans of vegetables or bottles of water to add weight to exercises like bicep curls. Plan to do strength building 2-3 days a week with a day of rest in between.
Flexibility exercises helps to increase your physical stability, reduces the risk of injuries, and helps you perform daily activities. This could be simple stretching, bending or twisting. Flexibility exercises should be done at least 2-3 times a week.
For more information check out the website www.fitness.gov. You will find many helpful resources on this site to help you answer the President’s challenge.
Good luck and Move More in May and beyond!
Debbie Stephenson teaches Faithful Families and EFNEP’s Families Eating Smart and Moving More to community groups and faith communities. For more information, Debbie may be reached at the NC Cooperative Extension by calling 910-893-7530.