Be Active as a Family

Physical activity is important for all ages. Being active as a family can be fun and beneficial for everyone. The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 2 1/2 hours per week; children need 60 minutes per day. Try these tips to make activity part of your day!

  • Set specific activity times—Look at your family calendar and schedule physical activity into your day when everyone is available.
  • Plan ahead and track your progress—Let the kids help plan the activities and log them on the family calendar.
  • Include work around the house—Yard work and chores around the house count too!
  • Use what is available—Many activities take little or no equipment or facilities such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, and dancing. Check out programs available at your community recreation center; they may even have childcare or activities available.
  • Plan for all weather conditions—Get outdoors when the weather is nice, but also plan activities that do not depend on the weather. Treasure hunts and hide-and-seek can be played indoors or outdoors.
  • Turn off the TV—Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day. This includes TV, video games, and the computer (except for schoolwork).
  • Start small—Start with an activity that everyone likes and add new ones when everyone is ready.
  • Include other families—Invite others to join the fun!
  • Treat the family with fun physical activity—To celebrate achievements, do something active as a family such as visit the zoo, try out a park, or go to the lake.

Source: Choose MyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov

Warm Weather and Warm Joints!

Woman exercising

As seasons change, our bodies work to adjust to different temperatures. Unfortunately, this can cause our joints to become stiff and uncomfortable during weather changes. Try these three mobility exercises to increase functionality and reduce pain during the changing seasons:

Standing Hip Openers: Find your balance on one foot with the help of a chair. Standing on one leg, make a circle with the knee of the other leg. Bring the knee out to the side of your body and then back. Complete the motion 4–5 times with each leg.

Ankle Mobility: Stand tall with one hand on a wall for balance. Rise up onto your toes so your heels come off the floor. Then slowly rock back to the heels of your feet, letting your toes rise from the floor. Rock back and forth about 10 times.

Knee to Chest Stretch: Place back against a wall and bring one knee to your chest. Grab the knee with both hands and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat stretch on each leg, standing up tall against the wall.

Try A New Winter Sport

Skiing

Have you always wanted to learn how to ski? How about ice skating? Snowboarding? Snowshoeing? Now’s the time! There are a variety of winter activities right outside your doorstep that are affordable and fun. The best part—you can burn calories while enjoying yourself! A 150-pound person can burn approximately 415 calories per hour cross-country skiing. Check out the DNR website for trails and other winter activities!

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources (www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/DNR-News-Releases/ArticleID/457/Iowa-Winter-Treks-and-Trails-to-Test-Those-Fitness-Trackers)

Make Fitness Fun Again

Are you bored with your current fitness routine? If so, try these ideas to make fitness fun again.

  • Download a fitness app that works as your own personal trainer.
  • Go to your local library and check out some fitness DVDs or go online and find free videos to move along to.
  • Make it a social time by inviting a friend or coworker to exercise with you.
  • Make a playlist that excites you and gets you moving faster.
  • Buy some new workout clothes that make you happy and excited to wear them.
  • Try new classes at a local gym, recreation center or community center.

Workouts with a Buddy

It can be hard to stick to an exercise routine. The demands of work and family can ruin your good intentions. Research shows that exercising with another person may help you succeed.

One study found that married couples who exercised together did it more consistently than married people who exercised alone. A family member or friend who shares an activity with you provides support and motivation.

Water bottle and weights

Activities that go better with a buddy include partner yoga, dance classes, martial art classes, hiking, tennis, and many others.

Sometimes two people may not find the same activity enjoyable. For couples or buddies with different preferences, just committing to the same exercise time together may be beneficial. They might try the following:

  • Go to the same gym together.
  • Try activities that are new to both of them.
  • Sign up for a competition or fun fitness event.
  • Plan a group session with a personal trainer.

Having the support of a partner for both diet and exercise helps us stick to lifestyle changes.

Source: Today’s Dietitian

Yoga: Health Benefits Beyond the Mat

The purpose of yoga is to build strength, flexibility, and awareness. The muscle stretching in yoga can lessen arthritis pain, backache, and headaches. Yoga has many benefits for your heart and lungs as well. It lowers your blood pressure and slows your heart rate. Yoga may also help increase muscle strength, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve breathing and energy.

Yoga mat

Aside from the physical benefits, yoga can help manage stress. Yoga involves paying attention to your breath, which can improve mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness. It relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration.

More than 100 different types of yoga exist. There is a form of yoga for everyone! Your size or fitness level does not matter. Every yoga pose can be modified. Beginner classes are available in every style. If you’re new to yoga, practice these 12 basic yoga poses to get started at WebMD (www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-yoga-pose-basics).

Sources:
Harvard Health (www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat)
American Osteopathic Association (www.osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga)

Any Movement Is Better Than No Movement!

Crunched for time? Any workout is better than no workout! It is recommended adults get at least 150 minutes of cardio training (i.e., walking, biking, swimming) a week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities (i.e., weight training) to promote living a healthy lifestyle. Working out and getting the blood pumping has many health benefits—including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving sleep, enhancing mood, relieving stress—and it can be fun! At-home circuit workouts, biking, walking, gardening, jogging, and bodyweight exercises (strength-training exercises that use your own body weight to provide resistance against gravity) are some easy ways to incorporate extra movement into your busy day. To reach the goal of 150 minutes per week, spread out your workouts into 30 minutes a day and bring a family member or friend along too!

Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/move-your-way-activity-planner) to find more ideas to increase your daily activity.

Make Waves for Your Health’s Sake

Swimming sign

As adults, we need two and a half hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week. Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. While you’re trying to cool off this summer, try to incorporate some water exercises.

When you hop in the water—whether a lake, river, or pool—try one of these “cool” exercises:

  • Walk forward, backward, and sideways in the water. Start slowly for 1–2 minutes in each direction and work up to 3–5 minutes. A water belt may be helpful to maintain buoyancy.
  • Water squats are a great strength exercise. Be sure your feet are on the bottom of the pool, lake, or river and you can wiggle your toes. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Grab a water noodle and use it as an oar. Begin to row as if you were in a boat, using the noodle as your oar in the water. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control
Unity Point

Get Your Family Moving!

You probably know that regular physical activity helps both parents and children stay well. It strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones. But did you know that physical activity could strengthen families, too? Families that take walks, play sports, or do physically active chores together often notice these benefits: better communication and bonding, less stress and conflict, and more family fun!

Getting family members of all ages involved in the same physical activity at one time can be a challenge. Here are tips that may help:Sports equipment

  • Set regular, specific activity times. Determine times when the whole family is available.
  • Plan and track progress. Write plans on a family calendar.
  • Build new skills. Enroll yourself and the kids in exercise classes you will both enjoy.
  • Treat physical activity as a gift. Give presents that encourage physical activity, such as bikes, balls, jump ropes, and badminton sets.

Both parents and children can treasure the times when the family is physically active together. Visit Choose MyPlate’s Ten Tips to Be an Active Family for additional information.

Sources: ChooseMyPlate.gov, WebMD

Stay Safe in the Summer

Temperature warning signThere are many outdoor summer activities to do in the sun, but it is important for your safety to know the proper precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 600 heat-related deaths each year. However, there are plenty of things you can do to beat the heat.

 

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
  • Protect yourself against sunburn. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply every two hours.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Monitor the color of your urine; it should remain a pale, not dark, yellow.
  • Never leave individuals or animals in parked vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest time of the day (early to mid-afternoon). Schedule your exercise during cooler parts of the day such as early morning or evening.

 

Source: Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/symptoms-causes/syc-20373250)

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