Story by Sarah Gold, TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist
Photo on file
It’s finally spring in Oklahoma! Hopefully, the weather corporates enough to enjoy more time outside. Having the option to enjoy the outdoors provides a wide variety of ways to spend quality time with the people you love while sneaking in added physical activity. The spring can be a great time to renew your excitement about the health goals or resolutions you established at the beginning of the year. And like most things in life, these goals will be much easier and efficient to achieve if you involve your family, friends, coworkers, or other people you regularly spend time with.
Even if you’re hesitant to jump on the exercise bandwagon, it’s still essential to find fun ways to be active. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Healthy Promotion, more than 80% of adults do not meet the federal guidelines for both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Unfortunately, over 80% of adolescents do not engage in enough aerobic physical activity to meet the requirements for youth. Physical activity helps lower the risk of early death and diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It also helps to improve cognitive skills, improve the ability to concentrate and pay attention, and reduce the symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma has consistently been nationally ranked in the bottom ten for numerous health outcomes, including physical activity prevalence and obesity rates. In terms of physical activity, Oklahoma ranks among the six least physically active states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and for kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Unfortunately, 80% of adults and 65% of high school students in Oklahoma do not meet this requirement. In terms of obesity, 36.5% of adults in Oklahoma are obese, according to 2017 BRFSS data released by the CDC. In Oklahoma, $1.7 billion, or $588 per adult is spent on obesity related cost.
This spring, make a commitment with others in your life to be more active. There are several ways to do this in your home and day to day life, and on a community level. Below are several ideas and ways to incorporate more physical activity into your life.
- Organize a family/group fitness night. Commit one night a week to doing a group fitness activity with your family, neighbors, or friends. Some ideas include yoga, ZUMBA, kickball, basketball, sand volleyball, swimming, or slow-pitch softball. This is a great way to exercise while still spending quality time with people you love.
- Commit an entire week to being “screen-free”. Pick one week to replace time that you would normally spend on your computer, TV, phone, or other electronic devices and engage in activities outside of the house instead. Invite your family or friends to enjoy bowling, mini-golf, a hike, a walk around boomer lake, or a group fitness class with you.
- Register for a 5K. During the spring in Stillwater there are countless 5K races to participate in. Some include the Lake McMurtry Run, the Run/Walk for the Thin Blue Line, The Remember the Ten run, and the SMAC You with Color 5K Run. Training for and participating in these runs can be a fun way to be physically active this spring!
- Walk or bike to school or work. If you are able, try walking or biking to your school or workplace. And if that is not feasible, try walking or biking to a nearby grocery store, park, or restaurant.
- Incorporate more physical activity into your day. Add more small chunks of physical activity into your day. During your breaks at work, get outside and walk around, or try stretching or doing yoga with your coworkers. At home, turn on music and have a dance party with your friends or family. Or try doing a new exercise each week for five minutes per day. Some examples include squats, wall sits, or crunches. Have others join this challenge with you.
- Find activities that you love! Most importantly, when exploring new ways to be physically active, do things that you enjoy. Feel free to try new and exciting things and don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a fan of an activity that everyone around you enjoys. Try mixing it up and trying new things. This will keep you from getting bored with one particular activity. Enjoyable exercise is the key to creating sustainable habits.
For more information and ideas, visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com.