Many of us spend a lot of time engaging in sedentary activities such as working on computers, playing video games, watching television and listening to music.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and obesity, which could put you at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that:
▪ Adults get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week.
▪ Muscle-strengthening activities should be incorporated two or more days a week.
▪ It’s recommended that children and adolescents engage in moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity for periods of time adding up to 60 minutes or more each day.
▪ Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated into this time three days a week.
You can work toward these recommendations by starting with just 10 minutes a day.
An active and healthy lifestyle can provide benefits physically, mentally, socially and academically, including:
▪ Healthy weight maintenance.
▪ Strong bones and muscles.
▪ Increased self-esteem.
▪ Increased alertness and reduced anxiety and stress.
▪ Better sleep at night and more energy during the day.
▪ More opportunities to meet new friends.
▪ A healthy immune system.
Parent engagement is important. Adults need to be role models for children by educating them on proper food choices and participating in regular activities promoting physical fitness.
Find activities the whole family can do together, such as riding bikes, walking the dog, gardening, swimming, hiking and running.
Use web-based applications or other tools to track goals and activity together. Prepare and eat healthful meals as a family.
Get children involved by including them in age appropriate food preparation.
Providing positive encouragement and rewards for small victories is also a great way to keep up the motivation.
Laura Johnson is a registered dietitian at Sutter Health – Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.