Tag Archives: exercise

Creating an Active Lifestyle

Are your kids spending too much time in front of the television? Having a hard time getting them moving? Being active should be an important part of your child’s day. It is recommended for children to get at least 60 minutes of play everyday to be healthy. Children who move more at a young age are likely to be healthier adults.

Being active can lead to:

  • Healthy growth
  • Stronger bones and heart
  • Better concentration in school
  • Regular sleeping patterns

Creating an active lifestyle for your family is easy and can be fun and free! Here are a few simple ideas involving the whole family to get your kids moving:

  • Start the day with physical activity – walk or bike to school with your kids
  • Take a trip to the local park or public school playground. Monkey bars, swings and tag are great ways be active at the playground.
  • Take your family pet for a walk. Don’t have a pet? Go for a family walk after school and take that time to talk about what they learned that day!
  • Encourage your children to sign up for after-school programs that involve activity – such as a running club or swim team.
  • Include the whole family in yard work or outdoor chores – digging in the garden or mulching, raking the leaves or shoveling snow.
physical activity for a family

Move More Together!

Leading a physically active lifestyle helps your family’s health. Check out this blog post about how physical activity leads to a healthy heart. What are some ways your family likes to move more together?

You Can Change Your Body!

Hi there! My name is Julie Knopp and I am a Dietetic Intern at Virginia Tech, working this month with the Family Nutrition Program. I would like to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart: Exercise. Physical activity. How do you feel when you hear those words? Do you feel a sense of guilt or dread? Or perhaps you feel satisfied knowing that you are already getting regular activity in your daily life. Whatever the case may be, exercise is an important part of life. It doesn’t matter if the exercise is intense or moderate, short or long. Anything counts! Once you start exercising, your body will change to become faster, stronger, and healthier.

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Fitting In Fitness: How Being Active Throughout the Day Adds Up

I just don’t have the time to exercise.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to find a full 30-45 minutes free every day to devote to hitting the gym, jogging or your preferred method of getting active. Many people, myself included, find this is one of the biggest barriers to moving more. We tend to view being active as an “all or nothing” condition. Either you run for 30 minutes every day or you work out your fingers hitting buttons on the remote. Well, I’m here to remind you, that’s not how living an active life works.

It All Adds Up

Fortunately for all of us busy folks, your 30 minutes of exercise doesn’t have to happen all at once. It is works just as well to break it up into smaller “bite-sized” chunks throughout the day until you hit the 30-minute (or more) mark. In fact, it might even be better to approach physical activity this way. Research has found that even if someone exercises for an hour a day, if they spend the other 23 sitting/sleeping/generally not moving, there is not nearly as much of a benefit to their health or lifespan. It’s best to be active throughout the day. And since walking right after a meal helps with digestion, you can use your meals as reminders to take an activity break.

short bursts of exercise

Take mini physical activity breaks throughout the day.

What Activities Work?

There is no right or wrong way to move more! Anything that gets your heart beating faster and you breathing heavier counts as physical activity. If you have time and space, a brisk walk is a great choice. You can also do some bodyweight exercises, like squats, push-ups, or planks anytime, anywhere. Working in the garden (weeding, raking or carrying water) is activity that we usually don’t think of as exercise. Here are some more ideas for little physical activities you can use throughout the day. The best choice of activity is whatever works for you!

I have been squeezing in more activity at work recently. Every time I need to use the restroom, I make a lap down the entire hall. I also stand up and stretch every hour or two, which feels so good and helps me re-focus on my work. And since the weather has been so nice recently, I like to go for a short walk during lunch to get some fresh air and lovely sunshine.

What ways can you add more activity to your typical day?

Prevent Diabetes by Eating Smart, Moving More and Slimming Down

I just ran across a new study today (see a video about the results here) about preventing diabetes. It found that eating whole fruit, in particular blueberries, grapes and apples, at least twice a week reduced the risk of developing diabetes. On the flipside, drinking fruit juice once a day or more increased the risk of developing diabetes. This is just one more in a line of research studies that show how our lifestyles can help or hurt our likelihood of developing diabetes.

Eating Smart to Prevent Diabetes

We know that what we eat affects our health and diabetes prevention is no different. A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is important to reduce your risk of diabetes. MyPlate is a great tool to help you Eat Smart.

Moving More to Prevent Diabetes

Being physically active helps your body process blood sugar efficiently, which helps prevent diabetes. After all, diabetes occurs when you cannot control your blood sugar normally, causing it to rise into the unhealthy range. A famous diabetes prevention study found that people who met the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week greatly reduced their risk of developing diabetes. (Read our advice for adding Strength Training to your physical activity routine)

Slim Down to Prevent Diabetes

This same famous study also looked at weight loss to prevent diabetes, because most people who get Type 2 diabetes are overweight. Losing just 7% of your body weight (14 pounds if you start out weighing 200 pounds) is effective at preventing diabetes.

Steps to prevent diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program (see full brochure here: http://ndep.nih.gov/media/NDEP76_GetReal_4c_508.pdf)

Steps to prevent diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program (see full brochure here)

If diabetes runs in your family, you shouldn’t feel hopeless against getting it. Make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle because eating smart, moving more and slimming down can help prevent diabetes. And the Virginia Family Nutrition Program is here to help- contact us at vafnp@vt.edu to find Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down programs in your area.

Flex Those Muscles- Strength Training for Better Health

Recommendations

As you begin to Move More, you may wonder what types of activities you should be doing to get the most benefits for your health. While walking everyday (an easy, free aerobic activity) will help you meet the general physical activity guidelines, experts recommend adding muscle strengthening activities for even greater benefits.

Recommendations for Muscle Strengthening Activities

Recommendations for Muscle Strengthening Activities

CDC Muscle Strengthening At Home: Introduction

Have you ever seen a guy with big biceps but teeny, tiny legs? Don’t be like him, remember to work all your major muscle groups:

  • Legs
  • Hips
  • Back
  • Abdomen (core)
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

Safety Precautions

As you start a new strength training program, remember to stay safe.

Always warm up. A brisk 5 minute walk followed by some light stretching will get your muscles ready to work.

Don’t overdo it. It is normal to get a little sore when starting a new exercise program, but don’t push beyond your limits too quickly. Start with lighter weights and/or fewer repetitions (reps) and focus on proper form. When you can safely preform the exercise, then you increase the intensity with bigger weights or more reps. (More info here on the Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Technique from the Mayo Clinic.)

Benefits

Strength training is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Muscle strengthening exercises can:

  • Help tone your body, making you look better
  • Increase your metabolism, helping you lose weight
  • Help your body use insulin efficiently, possibly preventing diabetes
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, improving your heart health
  • Relieve low back and arthritis pain, helping you feel better
  • Strengthen bones, helping prevent broken bones in old age
  • Improve mobility and memory as you age, keeping older adults independent

There isn’t a pill that can do all that!

Examples

Here are two workout programs to help you get started. Neither uses any equipment and can be done at home.

The Scientific 7 Minute Workout from The New York Times

The 30 Minute Lunch Workout from ACE Fitness

I challenge you to create a SMART Goal to Move More by adding strength training to your physical activity routine.