Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

Get Motivated to Move

April 23rd, 2014

letsmoveGetting bored with your workout? Want new ideas on how to get active? Check out Let’s Move! at

February 2014 marked the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!, an initiative to inspire families and communities to help children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the anniversary by encouraging people of all ages to show her how they move (through an everyday fitness routine, by making better food choices, or by moving their community toward a new norm) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc., using #LetsMove.

Be inspired to take your own physical activity up a notch by following Let’s Move! on Facebook and follow the Let’s Move! blog at

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The Kitchen Workout

March 26th, 2014

woman in kitchenAre you having a difficult time getting 30 minutes of physical activity in during the day? Did you know that your kitchen could be a great place for you to get some physical activity while your meal is cooking?
Warm Up: March in place or walk briskly for one minute while breathing deeply (IN through the nose and OUT through the mouth).
Side Arm Raises: Hold cans of fruit or vegetables at your sides with palms facing inward. Slowly breathe out as you raise both arms to the side, shoulder height. Hold the position for 1 second. Breathe in as you slowly lower arms to the sides. Build up until you can repeat 10 to 15 times. Rest; then repeat 10 to 15 more times.
Toe Stands: Stand at your kitchen counter, feet shoulder-width apart, holding on to the counter for balance. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out and slowly stand on tiptoes, as high as possible. Hold position for 1 second. Breathe in as you slowly lower heels to the floor. Build up until you can repeat 10 to 15 times. Rest; then repeat 10 to 15 more times.

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MARCH into Spring

March 5th, 2014

family eatingMARCH into spring armed with habits that help you become your healthiest self. Consider these tips:

Move every day – Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily for better blood pressure, stress reduction, and weight control. This can include three 10-minute bouts of physical activity throughout the day. Choose activities you enjoy, raise your heart rate, build strength, and increase flexibility. An activity buddy can help you stay faithful to your plan.

Avoid Skipping Meals – When making a shopping list and planning meals, consider MyPlate ( Include healthy snacks (e.g., low fat yogurt, vegetables with low fat dip, whole grain bread with peanut butter) to meet your family’s nutritional needs. Healthy snacks sustain energy levels between meals and help you stay on track with your health goals.

Read food labels – Aim high (20% or more) for vitamins, minerals and fiber. Aim low (5% or less) for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. For more information on how to read a food label, watch the “Label Reading for Health” video at

Choose foods carefully – Become a smart shopper by reducing the amount of convenience foods eaten, choosing fruit canned in juice, and buying no salt added canned vegetables. When you are choosing foods, make half your plate fruits and vegetables and watch portion sizes.

Have family meals – Make family meal time a priority. Research shows family meals promote healthier eating. Eat as a family a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime and turn off the TV, computers, and phones. Have all family members help in meal planning and cooking.

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February 26th, 2014

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has listed High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as its top fitness trend for 2014. HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. Research suggests HIIT can boost metabolism and accelerate weight loss.

Although many people can safely participate in HIIT, it is not for everyone. This type of training does come with increased risk of injury and may not be safe for some. Michael Bracko, Fellow of the ACSM, recommends always warming up for five to ten minutes before starting intervals. If an individual has an injury or has not been cleared for exercise, he advises that those issues be resolved before beginning HIIT.

Once you have consulted with a physician and been given the green light to try HIIT, you might want to try it at home. Bracko does sprint intervals with his dog. “I throw a stuffed duck, she chases it, and I chase her. It’s a blast!”

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Beat the Winter Blues

January 29th, 2014

As the short days and long nights of winter roll into February, we begin to feel like we are stuck in a rut. A little sunshine and fresh air bowlingwould do us good, but the frigid weather may seem like a good excuse to avoid workouts or outdoor play. Evidence shows that people are less physically active during winter months and tend to eat more “comfort” foods, increasing their potential to gain weight.

Being active can help with more than just weight control. Those who can maintain or increase their level of physical activity may feel happier and more energetic as well as feel better about themselves physically, and be better able to control their weight. Beat the blues by planning an activity for family or friends. Here are a few examples:

  • Bundle up children for cold weather and let them play outside for short periods of time. Sledding or making snow angels, snowmen, or snow forts are great activities to enjoy.
  • Allow children to play actively indoors if the weather is bitterly cold. Parents and children can dance or practice aerobics together. Parents may designate a space in the house where it is fine to wrestle and roughhouse.
  • Share a competitive round with exergames on the Wii or Kinect as a family or set up a family “Olympics” with a variety of sports activities.
  • Provide lots of challenge and vigorous exercise through ice skating. Many ice rinks are open to the public.
  • Go bowling. It offers friendly, fun-filled competition.

A little imagination and a lot of flexibility are all that’s needed to pass the time until spring.

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Enjoy the Fall Colors in Iowa’s State Parks

October 22nd, 2013

October is a glorious month of the year to enjoy outdoor activities in Iowa. The cool, crisp air is ideal for invigorating hikes or bike rides. The trees Fall walkare ablaze with orange, red, and yellow leaves. You can spot hawks gathering in the sky for migration. And there are no mosquitos!

Adults should have 30 minutes of moderate activity five days weekly and youth should have 60 minutes daily. When was the last time you visited your local state park?

Most Iowa state parks offer miles of scenic trails for hiking, birding, and mountain biking through woodlands and prairies or along river bluffs.

Visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks site to plan your next fall outing. Here you can download trail maps and read about the scenic delights and wildlife each park has to offer.

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Gardening Counts as Physical Activity

August 20th, 2013

mowingGardening is a great way not only to enjoy some fresh air and grow your own vegetables and fruits, but also to get some exercise.

Gardening activities—such as pulling weeds, removing rocks, trimming shrubs, digging, planting, and raking—require you to expend energy (burn calories). Physical activity can help strengthen bones and joints, lower blood pressure, and help manage stress.

Gardening is a fun, creative, and healthy activity with positive health benefits.

(30 minutes for 150 lb person)
Energy Expenditure
Digging/pulling weeds, removing rocks 200-250 kcal
Trimming trees and shrubs 150-170 kcal
Mowing (using push reel mowers) 200-230 kcal
Raking 120-150 kcal
Walking (slow to fast) 150-230 kcal

Want to grow your own vegetables or herbs? Check out the many Yard and Garden publications at the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store.


Iowa Launches Healthy and Happy Outdoors

July 23rd, 2013

Healthy and Happy OutdoorsHealthy and Happy Outdoors (H2O) is a new initiative designed to connect Iowans with the outdoors as a means to reduce stress and improve health.

The H2O website provides information on more than 30 types of outdoor activities at over 1,600 state and county parks and recreation areas. Each time you complete an outdoor activity, you can have your name entered into a drawing for recreational prizes, including bikes, binoculars, and vacation getaways.

This is a great way for families to enjoy Iowa outdoors while being physically active.

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Got 10 Minutes? Then Exercise!

March 20th, 2013

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity-aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, OR 75 exerciseminutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, every week. This may sound like a lot of time, but research shows that physical activity can still be beneficial if broken up into smaller chunks, as long as you are doing the activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes.

The chart below demonstrates the benefit of exercising at a moderate intensity for 10 minutes during lunch. Although preventing a 3 pound weight gain over the course of the year may sound minimal, this is the typical weight gain Americans experience annually that contributes to the 30 pound weight gain per decade of adult life.

1 day 2 days/week 3 days/week 4 days/week
1 week 50 100 150 200
1 month 200 400 600 800
3 months 600 1,200 1,800 2,400
6 months 1,200 2,400 3,600 4,800
1 year 2,400 4,800 7,200 9,600
Pounds/year .685 pounds 1.48 pounds 2.0 pounds 2.74 pounds

The amount of calories burned is based on a 150-pound person.


Dance Like the Stars!

February 26th, 2013

Have the dance competition television shows inspired you to get up and move? You don’t have to be a professional dancer, a celebrity, or even someone who knows how to do dancing any special dance moves to get health benefits from dance.

Dancing provides a workout for both the body and the mind. Researchers have learned that regular physical activity generally can help your body, including your brain, stay healthy as you age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. And dancing that requires you to remember dance step sequences boosts brainpower by improving memory skills.

Research suggests that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. It also has been shown that some people with Alzheimer’s disease are able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.

Other benefits of dance include:

  • strengthen bones and muscles without hurting your joints
  • improve your posture and balance
  • increase your stamina and flexibility
  • reduce stress and tension
  • burn calories (150-pound person burns 150 calories in 30 minutes)

So, tonight when you consider settling down for a little television, do a little boogie instead!