Sitting is the new smoking. Long periods of sitting, even if you get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity in during the day, can be harmful to your health. If you have a sedentary desk job, you may find it difficult to move throughout the work day.
Try to “deskercise,” which refers to exercise that can be done during the workday right at your desk. The National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has a deskercise poster you can download at no cost. Choose two exercises on the poster and do them twice a day. The exercises include cardio, strength, and flexibility. Challenge your coworkers as well to get active at their desks. Here is the link to download the poster: www.nchpad.org/fppics/deskercise%20poster_updated.pdf.
What Does It Do?
Foam rolling uses a process called “myofascial release” to stretch out tight muscles and release tension that causes an area to feel sore. The goal is to break up the tissue that connects the muscles called fascia. This long, cylindrical fitness tool is used by directly applying pressure to the target muscle area.
- Increased Range of Motion: During exercise, muscles constrict and create tension, decreasing mobility. Using a roller promotes more flexible muscles, allowing them to fully reach their potential range of motion.
- Strength and Balance: Foam rollers are not only used for stretching, but as a component of an exercise program. Yoga and Pilates utilize this tool to strengthen the core by creating instability.
- Feeling of Relief: After exercise, muscles can feel sore and tight. Rolling out the knots relieves some of the pain created by this built-up tension.
- Increased Circulation: Foam rolling allows more oxygen to circulate to the target muscles, assisting with recovery and performance.
- Easy and Affordable: Foam rollers can be purchased for as cheap as $10 and are lightweight and easy to transport.
Explore exercise ideas and check out types of foam rollers to purchase for your active lifestyle.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) promotes eating smart, moving more, and being at a healthy weight as the three top ways to reduce cancer risk. Cancer prevention research says that you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day and avoid sedentary habits like too much sitting, TV watching, or screen time.
Survey respondents said the biggest barrier toward meeting this recommendation is TIME! A key strategy to overcome this barrier is to start adding it in your schedule in small increments and slowly build up to 30 minutes daily.
- Take a 5-minute walking break: After every hour of sitting, get up and walk around. Walk down the street, down the hall, up and down the stairs; just move for 3 – 5 minutes, building up to 10 minutes for every 60 minutes of sitting.
- Make it a family affair: Create family activity challenges. Craziest dance moves, most jumping jacks in a minute, fastest running in place—whatever your family would find fun. Let the kids take turns leading an exercise break.
- Try a new activity or get back to that thing you used to do: Maybe you used to bike, hike, or play tennis. Find a like-minded friend(s), join a class, and make it a social occasion.
Source: AICR’s eNews, February 4, 2016.
The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight. A key recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines is to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which help promote health and reduce risk of chronic disease. Remember the following:
- Regular physical activity offers health benefits for everyone!
- Some physical activity is better than none.
- Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. You can get this amount in by being active 30 minutes 5 days a week.
- For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
- Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.
Need some motivation? Not sure where to start? The free online USDA Physical Activity Tracker may be a good way to get new ideas for being physically active and help you track your movement. This is available at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/physicalactivitytracker.aspx.
Functional fitness is one of the top ten fitness trends for 2016, as identified by the American College of Sports Medicine. Functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to make it easier and safer for one to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing a game of basketball with your kids. Functional fitness movements are often seen in exercise programs for older adults, but anyone can benefit from these exercises.
Tai chi and Pilates often involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness. Below are some specific functional fitness movements that you can try at home:
Squat – www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/0/135/
Multidirectional lunges – www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/0/94/
Seated bicep curls – www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/2/44/
Step-ups with weights – www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/0/28/
After adding more functional exercises to your workout, you should notice improvements in your ability to perform everyday activities, leading to an increased quality of life. Find additional resources by searching the exercise library at www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-main/.
Winter weather can discourage even the most dedicated exercisers. Use these tips for beating those chilly winter days:
Listen for the weather report, especially the wind chill. The current temperature and wind, along with the amount of time you’ll be outside, are essential factors in having a safe outdoor workout.
Layer it on, from head to toe. Dress in such a way to remove layers as soon as you start to sweat and then redress as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, which draws sweat away from your body. Next, layer fleece or wool for insulation. Top with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.
Drink your liquids. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids when exercising, whether it is in the cold weather or warm weather. Be sure to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. Get in the habit of drinking water, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty.
Keeping these tips in mind can help you safely enjoy your time outside, in spite of the winter weather.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Looking for a fun activity to try this winter? These top outdoor activities are good for burning calories:
Glide along the trail, taking in the fresh winter air and looking for wildlife. Search for parks with groomed trails. With moderate effort, you’ll burn 700 calories an hour, or 500 with light effort.
In areas where it’s permitted and ice conditions allow, ice skating is a great way to get active outdoors in the winter. In one hour of skating, you’ll burn 550 calories.
Sledding and tobogganing
You might ask how many calories you can burn while flying down a hill. Well, don’t forget the repeated walks up that hill, and you’ll rack up 550 calories burned in an hour.
Yes, you can still fish a stream in waders in the winter—look to the trout streams of northeast Iowa, which rarely freeze. In an hour of angling, you’ll burn 460 calories. Not wanting to get in the water? You can still burn 300 calories in an hour by fishing and walking along the bank.
All calories burned are calculated for a 170-pound person per hour. Those weighing less will burn fewer calories, while those weighing more will burn a greater amount of calories.
Search state and county parks by available activities with the Iowa DNR interactive Healthy and Happy Outdoors map.
Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Being physically active is important, and the right clothes and shoes can help reduce injury and make physical activity more comfortable. It’s all about the fabric and fit with clothing, so you don’t have to worry about the labels or latest fashions.
Fabric: Choose fabrics that pull sweat away from the skin and dry quickly. Most of these fabrics are made of polyester or polypropylene. These fabrics don’t soak the clothing. Look for terms such as Dri-fit, moisture-wicking, Coolmax, or Supplex. Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs sweat and leaves you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable.
Fit: Choose the fit that is most comfortable to you while not getting in the way of your activity. Loose clothing is fine for activities like running, basketball, and strength training. Form-fitting clothing works best for activities where clothing can get caught, like biking.
Shoes: Just as with clothing, your shoes should match the activity. Walking shoes are stiff, while running shoes are more flexible. For strength training, choose shoes that have good support. If you have issues with your feet or are unsure of the type of shoe you need, a store specializing in fitting shoes would be recommended. They are trained to determine the best shoe for you based upon your activity, gait, and feet.
The American Heart Association says that a 30-minute walk a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type-2 diabetes.
The following tips can help you start walking with maximum safety and the most success.
- Talk to your doctor. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.
- Wear appropriate attire. This includes supportive shoes, good socks, breathable active wear, and a hat or cap to shield you from the sun or keep your head warm.
- Remember to stretch. Avoid sore muscles and injury by stretching before and after you walk.
- Start slow. Progressively increase the intensity and length of your walking regimen over time.
- Plan a route. Use www.mapmywalk.com or another similar website to plan a walking route. There are also many free online walking videos that can be used indoors with no equipment other than shoes such as START! Walking at Home American Heart Association 3 Mile Walk (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYuw4f1c4xs).
Sources: American Heart Association, “Why Walking?” www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp; eXtension Network, www.extension.org
Studies show that individuals are more physically active if the environment provides them with opportunities to do so. Examine your neighborhood, workplace, or school to identify ways to make your surroundings more inviting for walking or exercise. Here are four ideas to consider:
- Start a walking group in your neighborhood or at your workplace.
- Make the streets safe for exercise by driving the speed limit and yielding to people who walk, run, or bike.
- Participate in local planning efforts to develop a walking or bike path in your community.
- Share your ideas for improvement with your neighbors or local leaders.
Source: Opportunities Abound for Moving Around, May 2015, newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/May2015/Feature1