May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, designated in 1983 by the President’s Council on Fitness to promote healthy lifestyles among all Americans and improve our quality of life.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, 60 minutes for children, at least five days a week. Providing opportunities for children to be active early on puts them on a path to better physical and mental health while helping them to develop life-long fitness habits.
No Equipment is No Excuse
How many different reasons can you come up with for not being physically active? We’ve all said things like, “I don’t like gyms” or “I don’t have the equipment in my home” or “I don’t have the time.” The good news is that we don’t need to be gym members to get moving. There are daily activities we can do in our lives, in our homes and in our communities that help us get moving.
Activities that Keep Us Physically Fit
- Walk the dog with the whole family
- Park your car as far away as possible so you have to walk a longer distance from your destination. Even better, walk or cycle to run errands in your community
- Go for a hike or bike ride
- Plant and care for a vegetable garden (then cook the vegetables for healthy meals)
- Start your day with a morning stretch or end your day with calming yoga.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator
Staying Active During the Pandemic
With gyms across the nation the closed and social distancing measures still in place in some locations, try these tips for staying physically and mentally fit:
- Look for free deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness apps such as Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace
- Get outside every day for fresh air and sunlight
- Eat healthy, whole foods and keep lots of healthy snacks and fruit in the house; limit consumption/get rid of sugary snacks and processed foods
- Drink lots of water – keep a bottle on your desk all day
- Stand up during the day – take calls standing, walking around house, on a treadmill or bike
- Maintain exercise routines
- “Walk the dog” even if you don’t have one
- Put a recurrent reminder on your calendar to get up, stretch, walk around, etc.
- Create a challenge for yourself and/or with colleagues
- Look for free exercise apps such as 7-minute workout, Nike Training, etc.
- Search YouTube or your cable provider for free yoga, cardio and strength training routines
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule – aim for 7 – 8 hours per night
- Incorporate some ergonomic exercises into your workday. Examples include shoulder rolls, wrist rolls, hand stretches, neck stretches, hip stretches, hand grips (squeezing a stress ball or hand grip)
And, if you are working remotely, remember to create a space dedicated for work only and with some privacy. Ensure your workspace is set up properly and you have what you need. Don’t be tempted to start work the moment you get up and use your “commuting” time to take a pre-work walk. Treat your work at home days as if you were going to the office. Dress appropriately (within reason – probably don’t need to wear a suit but don’t wear pajamas either!) And finally, take a lunch break. Try to keep a regular work schedule and turn off the computer by a certain time each day and walk away.
Staying Active for Individuals with Disabilities
Children and adults with disabilities can gain numerous mental and physical benefits from being physically active on a regular basis including: reduced risk of chronic and secondary conditions, improved self-esteem and greater social interaction. Look for opportunities in inclusive programs that are already in place at local community and recreation centers, health and fitness facilities, public agencies and park departments, or sports clubs.
Sources: American Cancer Society, Association for Behavioral Health & Wellness, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Centers for Disease Control. World Health Organization, EMPOWER Retirement, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Mental Health, Willis Towers Watson Wellbeing Ideas for Remote Employees