The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes (30 to 60 minutes, 5 days weekly) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, swimming, biking, or hiking each week.
Did you know there are more than 1,800 miles of trails in Iowa available to explore on foot or by bike? Iowa by Trail is a resource from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. It is available as an app or on the Iowa by Trail website, go.iastate.edu/XOJQ8I. Search for trails by location and find information on distance, surface, and accessibility. The app allows users to track the trails they completed and the distance they traveled.
To download the app on a cellular device, open the App Store. Search for the app using the Search tab. Tap “download” to install the app. Check out this resource to learn why Iowa is referred to as the “Trail Capital of the Nation.”
Spring is finally here, and many families are enjoying the warmer weather by planning their gardens. The fresh produce from gardens certainly improves our diets. As a bonus, gardening helps us be active! The Centers for Disease Control considers gardening a moderate intensity activity. Gardening helps get us the recommended 2 1/2 hours of activity we need each week. Working in a garden allows us to get vitamin D from the sun. It helps relieve stress. It might even lower our risk of dementia!
A team at Iowa State University (ISU) is leading the statewide rollout of Walk with Ease (WWE). It is an evidence-based program to help older adults establish healthy patterns of physical activity. The ISU team is currently inviting adults over the age of 60 to take part in an enhanced version of the virtual, self-directed WWE program. This includes access to an online portal as well as personalized support to help older adults incorporate more steps into their daily lives. All programming, including a guidebook, is free for those willing to provide feedback on the enhancements. For more information and to enroll in the program, visit Walk with Ease, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.
Sources: Walk with Ease at Iowa State University, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.
To promote health and well-being, healthy adults should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly. Although spring is around the corner, it still may not be warm enough to get moving outside. Get moving in the comfort of your home with Spend Smart. Eat Smart.® physical activity videos. You can access these at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., https://bit.ly/3ol6oE6.
Does just thinking about getting more exercise stress you out? It may help you to remember that once you do start a physical activity regularly, you will be melting your stress away.
“Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. Getting enough physical activity can counteract the effects of stress. It strengthens your immune system. It helps ward off fatigue and illnesses. A 20-minute walk may energize you more than an afternoon nap!
Too much stress is bad for your mental and physical health. Stress is your body’s reaction to real or perceived threats. This “fight or fight” response releases chemicals that affect many areas of your physical health, including your immune system.
Chronic stress can lead to the following:
Frequent muscle aches, headaches, or changes in sleep habits
Greater frequency of colds and fu
Increased sadness, anxiety, anger, or irritability
Reduced concentration and forgetfulness
Overeating or loss of appetite
The good news is that there are ways you can help lower chronic stress like eating well, moving more, and getting enough sleep. If you believe you are suffering from stress symptoms, check out one of these free publications from the ISU Extension Store, store.extension.iastate.edu, to help you cope. If you think you may need counseling to help you cope with your stress, contact the Iowa Concern Hotline, www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, at 1-800-447-1985.
We all can use encouragement at times, even some celebration when we meet a goal. Cheering on a friend or family member who wants to be more physically active is a wonderful way to show your support. Be open and listen—congratulate first steps and celebrate progress along the way. Help it happen—take a walk or explore new activities together. Don’t push too hard and DO keep it positive.
Current physical activity guidelines recommend strength training, which helps to prevent or reverse sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue, or muscle mass, as we age. Doing strength exercises at least twice a week keeps your muscles strong, so that you can do everyday activities such as lifting groceries and rising from a chair.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (tie-chee). Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements. Practicing tai chi helps to improve balance and stability in older people and in those with Parkinson’s disease. It reduces back pain and improves quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs, and senior centers.
Feeling tired, slow, and sluggish? People often don’t feel their best when they are not getting enough physical activity. But how much is enough? Experts say, for most of us, at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week promotes health and well-being. For the best results, aim for a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and flexibility activities each week.
Ideally, we need 150 minutes of aerobic activities weekly. Aerobic activities increase your breathing and heart rate and improve heart and lung fitness. Jogging, brisk walking, biking, and swimming are examples.
Muscle-strengthening activities build and maintain both muscles and bones. Lifting weights, using a resistance band, or doing weight-bearing activities such as push-ups, squats, or yoga are all examples. Aim to do these twice weekly, in addition to your aerobic activity.
Flexibility activities help joints to move through their full range of motion. You should enjoy stretching exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi two to three times weekly.
Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/physical-activity/.