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Believe in 'Move Your Way' campaign

By CLAIRE RIVRON - For The Shelbyville News

The terms “exercise” and “physical activity” might not fit with how you consider your daily exertion. However, when you step back for a moment, feeling fatigued from a big chore or energized from a quick break away from your desk, it makes sense to credit your everyday efforts as forms of physical activity.

Have you sweated through a turn on a push mower, kept up with a child exploring the zoo, or danced at a wedding reception this summer? You’ve been active!

How about this week, or today? Whether you’ve exerted yourself by playing chair volleyball, helping someone pack up and move, or by pulling weeds in the garden, you’ve been moving.

It turns out these activities (and more) are now officially counted as exercise.

In November 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. To share their key recommendations with the public, the agency also released a coordinating campaign, called “Move Your Way” (health.gov/moveyourway/).

Using the site’s visually-appealing Move Your Way Activity Planner, you can track your weekly exercises and explore a range of other categorized activities to meet the general guidelines (keeping in mind your personal healthcare provider’s advice).

Also new in this update is an executive summary with key guidelines that represent a wide range of ages and populations: preschool-aged children, children and adolescents, adults, older adults, women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and adults with chronic health conditions or disabilities. There is updated, research-based guidance on the importance of physical activity for everyone.

The great news is that the updated research points to physical activity being even better for you than previously understood. Whereas before, the advice was to work out for at least ten minutes at a time to receive health benefits, experts now say there are positive immediate as well as cumulative effects of even very short bouts of movement.

The short walk from your parking space into your destination can help you feel better right away, perhaps in reducing your stress. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator (even just one extra floor) might help improve your sleep later. In general, moving more and sitting less is linked with lowered health risks and a longer, healthier life overall.

Some kinds of activity get our hearts beating faster (these are known as aerobic activities), and others strengthen our muscles and bones. Not only is it recommended that all populations engage in a variety of physical activities each week, there are several kinds of activities that target multiple parts of your body, thus providing multiple benefits. Many outdoor chores, such as yardwork and shoveling snow are great examples of two-in-one exercises.

For adults, the recommendations include at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity as well as muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. For children and adolescents ages 6-17, the recommendations are for 60 minutes of activity every day, which should include both muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.

If you have previously thought of chores as another thing to fit into your day before also considering a workout, check out the Move Your Way site for an empowering change of perspective.

Your regular efforts do count, and can be enhanced if needed to fit the overall recommendations. For example, taking the dog for a walk could become a good aerobic workout if you keep a brisk but comfortable pace (a sign of moderate intensity is marked as being able to talk, but not sing), even five or ten minutes at a time. Each walk that gets your heart beating faster counts toward the recommended 150 minutes a week. Try gradually extending this activity (and others) by a few minutes each time to make solid progress toward a more active, healthy you.

What’s important is that you get started, move your way, and keep it up!

Information in this article comes from the Executive Summary of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition: health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf, from the Move Your Way homepage: health.gov/moveyourway/, as well as from the Move Your Way Activity Planner: health.gov/MoveYourWay/Activity-Planner/activities/.

The Active Living Action Team is a collaborative group of Shelby County community members that views physical activity as essential to health and well-being. The team works to increase awareness of physical activity benefits and opportunities throughout the county. Participants identify assets and barriers for physical activity and work with community partners on strategies to make a broad range of physical activity opportunities accessible, affordable and safe for all ages and abilities.

The Active Living Action Team is an open group. Every interested person is invited to join in the work of improving the health of Shelby County by making physical activity the easy choice wherever we live, learn, work, play and gather in Shelby County.