Be Active Your Way Blog
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! This month, organizations, schools, worksites, and communities across the nation are celebrating the benefits of being physically active, and the strides we've all made to help Americans move more. During May, take some extra time to enjoy the fun and excitement of being physically active with your friends, coworkers, and family.
How are you or your organization recognizing National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute a blog post!
Originally posted on the Let's Move! blog, in honor of the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign
Since early 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative has been an important driver of childhood obesity prevention efforts across the nation. Through Let's Move!, leaders in business, health care, community, and government have joined educators, childcare providers, faith leaders, chefs and many others to have a meaningful, positive impact on the health of our nation's youth. This month, Let's Move! highlighted their accomplishments from the past three years on their blog.
Here's a snapshot of some Let's Move! milestones and collaborations from the past 12 months:
To learn more about Let's Move!, visit www.letsmove.gov.
Physical Activity Guidelines Midcourse Report
As we look forward to another year of robust partnerships and efforts to improve the health of America's children, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in partnership with the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, is happy to announce the upcoming release of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth. This report, to be released on March 8, 2013 at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, highlights evidence-based intervention strategies for increasing physical activity throughout various sectors of society.
Learn more by visiting http://www.health.gov/paguidelines.
Tags: physical activity, childhood obesity, Let's Move, recreation, schools
Building Healthy Communities | Environmental Interventions | Playing Outside | Policy | Preventing Obesity | Schools
As a nation, we know that our own choices and behaviors - including physical inactivity - have contributed to rising rates of chronic disease and obesity. It seems easy enough to encourage individuals and families to engage in more physical activity. But the reality is that in many communities across the nation, making healthy choices such as getting active is not only difficult; sometimes it's not even option.
"It's not that hard," we might say. "Just go out and take a walk around your neighborhood." But what if that neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, and is cut off from other parts of the community? What if residents in that neighborhood feel unsafe when walking around because of poor lighting or other issues? What if children can't play because of lack of space?
Confronting our nation's health crisis requires that we support individuals and communtiies in making better choices, and that we work together to address the underlying conditions and other factors - stress, poverty, social isolation, and neighborhood safety - that contribute to declining health and well-being. This is especially important for those living in communities with limited access to the tools and resources needed to attain and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice by ensuring that our communities have adequate opportunities for children, families and adults to engage in healthy behaviors in all of the places where they live, work, learn, and play.
The Y, along with many other national and local organizations, is part of a growing "healthier communities" movement around the nation, bringing together community leaders and advocates to transform environments and to ensure that healthy opportunities are available to all - no matter where they live.
These collaborative efforts are making getting fit by active transportation easier by creating streets that are safe for all users whether they walk, bike or drive. They are making it easier for kids to walk to school by providing walking school buses and designated walk-to-school days. They are building or repairing parks or playgrounds, thereby providing opportunities for kids and families to play together. They are connecting communtiies by building walking and bike paths. They are ensuring that town and city plans address community design to ensure they support physical activity - and so much more.
A healthier community is a stronger community, leading not only to improved chronic disease and obesity rates, but often an improved economy. Imagine a neighborhood where businesses that struggled suddenly thrive after new street lighting makes it possible to shop at night. Imagine children playing in a new park. Imagine a new bustling town businesses district that is connected to residential neighborhoods through pedestrian and bike trails.
The possibilities are limitless, but it will take all parts of a community working together to achieve the goal of healthy communities where opportunities for physical activity benefit everyone.
What kind of barriers to physical activity might communities face? What are some things that communities can do together to overcome those barriers? Who might need to work together to help support physical activity in these communities? What ares ome of the benefits, outside of improved physical health, that healthier communities can lead to?
Tags: physical activity, healthy communities, playing outside
Barriers | Building Healthy Communities | Environmental Interventions | Playing Outside
So many things can get between our intentions and our actions. Sometimes my desire to write—even when motivated by a firm deadline—is held at bay while I adjust the blinds, make tea, boot up and log on. Things I know I should do but haven’t fully bought into can find no end of delays and reasons not to.
So it is with exercise, for many people. But even those who know how good it feels to be physically active and who earnestly seek the health benefits of a healthy lifestyle may confront circumstances that make it inordinately difficult. I’d like to explore some of those challenges and ways to address them. The goal, as always, is to help everyone enjoy appropriate physical activity throughout the lifespan.
Perhaps you grew up in a suburban house with a generous backyard. Did you have a city park nearby? I did, and I loved to ride my bike to school—all over town, in fact, as my age and my parents’ confidence in me increased. Add schoolyard play and team sports, and I burned quite a few calories with a smile on my face. Many evenings saw robust games of Kick the Can at locations throughout the neighborhood.
What about kids who have no backyard, no nearby park and inadequate school playgrounds? Team sports aren’t an option for some, with no school leagues and no minivan to the soccer field.
Opportunities for adults vary, too. Not everyone can afford to join a health club and hire a personal trainer. Rural dwellers may live miles from the nearest facility. Membership or league fees are the barrier for some—ditto the cost of sports equipment, lessons and travel. Kids in unsafe neighborhoods may be kept indoors, snacking in front of the TV or game console.
Too often, such challenges get between healthful exercise and those who could benefit from it.
Those who advocate for health and wellness can do much to expand opportunities for physical activity and exercise. Solutions may involve working with local officials or simple, informal collaboration. For example, can school facilities be open to the community after hours? How about pitching in to make a vacant lot into a pocket park? Neighbors, merchants and volunteers can work wonders in a day. A congregation in search of an outreach project might start a soccer league, a weekly game of kickball, or a jump-rope-a-thon.
For longer-term, larger-scale solutions, look at the impact rails-to-trails projects have had in some communities. Build paths and they will come: walking, wheeling, strolling and skating their way to fitness. Zoning laws can require sidewalks in new or redeveloped neighborhoods.
While some pursuits need costly equipment (think polo, on the high end), an active life often requires nothing more than a pair of walking shoes and your imagination.
Bottom line? Being physically active is too important to health and quality of life to let some of us go without. Let’s look at what keeps people from exercise and find ways to surmount the barriers. Now, what was I saying about writer’s block?
What barriers to physical activity confront some people in your community? How can they be overcome?
Tags: physical activity; Social Determinants of Health; environmental barriers
This page last updated on: 11/04/2009
Content for this site is maintained by the
Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.