When the sun shines less in fall and winter, that can depress our mood. Regular physical activity lifts our spirits by releasing feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of activity three to fve days a week. You can engage in three 10-minute bouts of activity a day, if 30 minutes all at once is daunting. Try these ideas for indoor physical activity during the cold and icy months:
Turn on the radio and dance.
March in place while watching your favorite TV show.
Set an alarm to walk around your house or office every hour during the day.
Use workout videos.
Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
Hiking is great for physical health. It also improves mental health! It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a Stanford study, walking for 90 minutes in nature, instead of an urban setting, decreases activity in the brain linked to depression.
With fall approaching, the new schedule for school and work has likely changed your routine. However, that doesn’t mean your exercise routine has to go. To keep yourself accountable, set a SMART goal for fall.
Specific—This is the “what” of your goal, describing exactly what you’re going to do and where. For example, “I will walk outside more often.”
Measurable—How can you measure your goal each day, month, or year? Add specific units and numbers to your goal. “I will walk outside 30 minutes a day.”
Attainable—Is this goal attainable for you? Think about your current fitness level and the competing demands on your time.
Relevant—Is this goal meaningful and beneficial to you?
Time-bound—What is the time frame of your goal? How many days a week, and for how long? For example, “In the month of September, I will walk outside for at least 20 minutes at least three days a week.” At the end of your time frame, you can evaluate your success and make a new SMART goal.
The human body is 60% water. Our cells need water to:
Control body temperature,
Lubricate and cushion joints, and
Protect sensitive tissues.
Water is vital to regulate body temperature during exercise in the summer heat. Lack of water can lead to extreme thirst, fatigue, and dizziness. Dehydration is particularly dangerous for young children and older adults.
How much water do we need to be drinking? Adults should get 9–14 cups of fluid a day. Generally, if your urine is pale or colorless, you are getting enough.
Remember, you can also drink and eat other things besides water to get the fluid you need.
100% juice (no more than 1 cup a day)
Sports drinks (if sweating a lot)
For more about your water needs, visit Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.
Since the spring, gyms, recreation centers, and playgrounds have closed or operated in limited capacity, due to the need for social distancing. However, we can still be physically active while staying safe.
Walking, running, and biking with people in your household can be fun. Find a little-used trail in your neighborhood, an open park, or even a rural area and go exploring!
Avoid crowded parks and recreational areas. Consider canoeing or kayaking in an uncrowded waterway.
Try a workout video. On days when the weather is not right for being outdoors, visit free online videos that encourage physical activity. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. webpage, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity, for ideas.
Men’s Health Month helps raise awareness about early detection and treatment of preventable disease among men and boys. Women tend to outlive men by almost five years. One reason for this is that women are more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Routine health monitoring can help reduce the risk of men’s deaths at an earlier age. Men are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and stroke than women. Healthy changes in diet and exercise habits can lower men’s risks for these conditions. Follow these tips to live longer and healthier:
Seek regular medical care to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Get 2 1/2 total hours of physical activity a week, including strengthening exercise on two days a week.
Follow a MyPlate-friendly meal plan. Everyone, regardless of gender, needs to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein foods, and low-fat dairy. In general, men need more calories and protein than women.
Limit drinks with added sugar, such as soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Those can add many extra calories.
Small changes in muscle strength can make a real difference in function. Do strength exercises for all major muscle groups on two or more days per week for 30 minutes each. Don’t exercise the same muscle group on any two days in a row. Activities should be done that make your muscles work harder than usual and work all major muscle groups. Complete this 18- minute beginner strength-training workout (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/at-home-workout-beginner-strength-training) from Spend Smart. Eat Smart. to get you started.
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.