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Recognizing Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

by YMCA September 11, 2013

New data indicating a decline in childhood obesity among preschoolers is good news – but there is still a lot of work to be done. September is “Child Obesity Awareness Month.” Let’s work together to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the No. 1 health concern facing American parents.

One way the Y is addressing this issue is through it’s early childhood and afterschool programs. In late 2011, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) made a commitment, to the First Lady and the Partnership for a Healthier America, to not only be the largest nonprofit provider of early childhood and afterschool programs, but also the healthiest. To keep this promise, YMCA’s across the country have adopted and implemented evidence-based YMCA standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA.) Now Y-USA is encouraging youth and families to integrate components of the HEPA standards into their at-home routine.

Bringing home HEPA—adding a fruit or vegetable at meals and snacks, sharing family-style meals, making water the primary beverage choice, engaging in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and role modeling by parents and caregivers—will surely help families reap the benefits of a healthier home.

One of the key components of HEPA is physical activity. Akin to healthy eating, physical activity must become part of our everyday routine to achieve optimal health benefits. At least an hour of play a day will add significant health benefits, but for many families finding free-time can be challenging. Since busy is the new normal for many, families should take the 3-P approach— Purpose, Prioritize, Plan—to accomplishing their physical activity needs.  

Purpose: Physical activity isn’t just for people who compete in athletics, are concerned with their physiques, or have time. Everyone needs activity at different levels.

Prioritize: Physical activity, like brushing teeth, must simply become part of normal day-to-day activities; not an afterthought.

Plan: A family activity plan will help add accountability to the family’s physical activity goals and make it easier to stay on track. The family should plan to revisit, and revise this plan if necessary, as the hustle bustle of the school year takes way; and break up the time if needed, as long as it adds up to an hour, it counts!

Focus on FUN, play first! Don’t be afraid to swap some study time for playtime. Most kids will love to put aside their homework and play with their family and it’s been proven that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic success. Remember, kids who burn more, learn more.

Moderate-to-vigorous activities such as walking to and from work and school, racing to the bus stop, biking, playing tag, jumping rope, commercial break fitness bursts, or after-dinner dance parties are FUN ways to insert physical activity into your daily routine. Not sure which activities are moderate or vigorous? The CDC offers a useful 0 to 10 guide to help you measure your physical activity intensity level.  

Increasing physical activity is one of many healthy habits that can be adopted by families to encourage a healthier future. Visit YMCA’s Healthy Family Home for free resources to support your family’s physical activity goals and visit COAM to learn more about Child Obesity Awareness Month.  What are you doing to help families bring HEPA home?

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Childhood Obesity | Preventing Obesity

Think and Grow Healthy: What Napoleon Hill Can Teach Us About Healthy Behaviors

by IHRSA September 5, 2013

We’ve written previously about the importance of making the healthy choice, not only the easy choice, but also the happy choice. This approach emphasizes the role that supportive environments can play in inducing healthy behaviors. We’ve also addressed the impact of social circles and support networks.

Each one of those posts discussed external factors that may influence a person’s decision to pursue a healthier and more active lifestyle.

But true behavior change requires something internal; a motivation strong enough to persevere.

In the depths of the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill published the business classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” which still consistently ranks as one of the greatest self-help/business books.

It It is a book, largely, about self-empowerment. It asserts that circumstance can be overcome by focus and determination. Despite having been published more than 75 years ago, there is a joyful, almost celebratory message that seems perfectly in place alongside more modern texts about the self-empowering forces of the web-based economy.

The book offers 13 principles of success based on his observations of 40 wealthy individuals, Sure, external forces matter, a lot, but humans are capable of achieving great heights, regardless of environment. The “starting point of all achievement,” according to Hill, is desire.

Hill offers 6 practical steps for turning desire into riches. I think they provide an excellent blueprint for any type of endeavor. Here are those 6 practical steps. Lightly edited, with the word “money” replaced with the words “physical activity.”

1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of physical activity you desire.

2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for physical activity you desire (there is no such reality as "something for nothing.")

3. Establish a definite date when you intend to achieve the physical activity level you desire.

4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once - whether you are ready or not - to put this plan into action.

5. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of physical activity you intend to pursue, name the time limit for achieving the amount, state what you intend to give in return for the amount of physical activity, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning.

What do you think? Would these six steps help folks lead a healthier, more active life? What else would you suggest?

In coming months: What role can social networks play in developing an individual’s desire for a healthier, more active life?

And, lastly, I would be remiss if I did not note that the wise and successful Napoleon Hill also listed “lack of proper physical exercise” in his section about the major causes of failure…

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Active Advice | Barriers

Constructing Functional Environments for Older Adults

by ICAA August 30, 2013

The environment(s) that we build or live in are vital to enhancing our quality of life and our life experiences. Environments can encourage, or discourage, people of all ages to lead an active, engaged life. When it comes to creating compelling environments for your older consumer, think about how to design and build them so they are inclusive of all people and their abilities.

One place to start is with a visioning process. Bring together your staff, consumers, vendors and key partners to share their thoughts on your current or proposed settings, and what they feel will make the environment more compelling. Many times it can be the little things that make a difference. From the colors you choose, to ease of use, and creativity to inclusiveness, how you incorporate details matters.

Another strategic approach is to hire a group of older adults to visit your current place of business and those of your competitors. Ask them to write down what they liked and what they did not. Did the lighting make it easy to see? How were the bathrooms and locker rooms? Did the front desk, fitness areas, café, and so on enhance the experience or detract from it, and why? What would they change to make the environment more engaging? Once you have gained this market intelligence, create a large storyboard where recommendations, pictures and more can be placed in full view of your staff. (A meeting room or office area is the best location.) Start the process of improvement, and don’t stop until you have addressed everything on the board. Then ask the same group to walk through your location again. What are their reactions now? This simple method can help you create a compelling, inclusive, and ageless environment for your business.

A thought to ponder: Environments provide experiences, good and bad, and good experiences create memories that bring consumers back. How will you make your environment(s) compelling?

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