Tend a Garden to Make Your Health Bloom

Two people gardening

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!

To learn more health benefits of gardening, listen to the Sow, Grow, Eat, and Keep videos, bit.ly/3JiahSB.

Move It

chair workout web page

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.

Physical Activity Melts Stress

Yoga mat

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!

Source: WebMD.com, www.webmd.com

Encouragement Goes Far

You can do it!

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.

Source: How to Encourage Someone Toward Physical Fitness, nextavenue.org

Strength Training for Strong Muscles

Woman lifting small weights

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.

Visit the National Institute on Aging Go4Life exercise videos, bit.ly/3ocqDmy, on YouTube for strength-training exercises, 7 tips for a safe and successful strength-training program, bit.ly/3GNZQ8p, or download the Prevent Sarcopenia handout, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/14826.

Creek Walking

Creek with water and rocks

Looking for a way to keep cool this summer? Try creek walking! It’s a great way to enjoy nature with family and friends, get a little exercise, and experience the outdoors. You don’t need much equipment to creek walk, just a pair of dirty tennis shoes or water socks to protect your feet.

Walking in the creek allows you to explore wildlife and native plants; find a fossil, bone, or antler; and leave the video games at home. Any stream can be unpredictable at times, so walk in the water when you can see the stream floor. Pack drinking water and snacks if you plan to walk a longer stretch. Towels and a change of clothes will provide a dry ride home. If walking alone, let someone know where and when you are going.

Find walking trails at Iowa Walking Trails and Maps, www.traillink.com.

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, www.iowadnr.gov.

Need a Workout Partner? Check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Physical Activity Videos.

Exercise mat and tennis shoes

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website has new physical activity videos. These are a great way to learn some new exercises. They can even serve as your virtual workout partner. They allow you to explore several types of workouts.

Like any good workout partner, these videos will also supply you with motivational tips to keep you going!

Go to Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity/, to check them out.

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Runner

Have you heard about HIIT workouts? High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates bursts of high-intensity effort with short recovery periods. It improves overall fitness, heart health, and body fat. People of all fitness levels can try this type of training. You can use it in cycling, walking, swimming, and group exercise classes. Workouts are generally shorter. They also burn more calories in the two hours after the workout.

Visit the American College of Sports Medicine, www.acsm.org, for more information on finding an HIIT program that is right for you.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine Fitness Trends, www.acsm.org

Moving More = Better Health

Our bodies are built to move. There are many benefits to being active throughout the day. Moving your body for just 3–5 minutes every 30–60 minutes improves nearly every system in the body.

Studies show that moving for a few minutes every 30 minutes or so

  • Improves digestion,
  • Increases energy levels,
  • Enhances mood,
  • Promotes better blood flow,
  • Improves posture, and
  • Increases focus.

Get your body moving by taking a stroll away from your work area. Stretch muscles that feel tense. Shake your arms and legs or do simple exercises in your workspace. For example, you could do wall push-ups, repeatedly standing from your chair.

Print this useful infographic on desk exercises, bit.ly/36X4kte!

Source: Time to Move, hr.umich.edu

Setting SMART Physical Activity Goals

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.

building blocks
  • 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.

Source: WebMD, www.webmd.com/

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