Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

smart goalsAre you one of the thousands of people that decide to make a New Year’s resolution each year? Do you always swear you are going to work out more, go on the latest diet craze, or lose weight?

Research has shown that after one month of making a New Year’s resolution, about 64% of people still stick with their goal. After 6 months, the number drops to 44%. Why do many people who vow to become more fit, eat better, or change another behavior have a hard time keeping their word?

Our society has adapted to performing behaviors that will produce quick results. Because of this, the planning and proper goal-setting get thrown to the wayside and goals become unrealistic and too difficult to reach. Now that we’re half-way through the year, it may be time to look at how your New Year’s Eve goal is coming along. Using a tool called the SMART objectives is an effective strategy to keep on track with your goals, no matter what they are related to (health, job, stress-relief, academics, etc.). The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-phased. Below gives a breakdown of the SMART objectives.

Specific: Who is the target population? In other words, who will be doing the behavior to reach this goal? What will the action, activity, or behavior be? What will you be doing?

Example: ‘I will exercise.’

Measurable: How much change is expected? Can you actually measure the results?

Example: ‘I will go for a brisk walk outside for 30 minutes twice a week and document it on a sheet of paper or in a log.’

Attainable: Is your goal practical? Are you able to carry out this behavior knowing your resources and constraints?

Example: Even if you don’t have the financial means to join a gym or fitness club, choose to walk outside somewhere close to home or in inclement weather have a back-up plan of using a DVD to work out at home.

Realistic: Is this goal something you can actually do, or is it too difficult to achieve?

Example: If you haven’t exercised in years or never at all, would you be able to walk for 30 minutes twice a week or would it be more realistic to start off doing 10 or 15 minutes twice a week?

Time-bound: Does your goal have a time-frame? When will you meet your goal?

Example: ‘I will go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes twice a week for two weeks and log it each time.’ Then you can build on this goal and increase the amount of time or days you walk – doing 30 minutes three times a week instead of twice.

I always like to say that it’s never too late to start over with your original goal or create a new mid-year resolution! Remember – positive behavior change should be a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix. Taking a little time to plan, set realistic goals, and have a strategy to overcome obstacles will ensure you’re set up for success. When creating goals related to living a healthier lifestyle, make sure to be SMART about it!


Click to access brief3b.pdf

Photo reference: http://workablewealth.com/are-you-being-smart/

Written by: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic Intern/Liz Smith, OSU Extension
Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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If you are at all like me, you were anxious to get outside last weekend and enjoy the beginnings of spring! Whether you took a long walk, rode your bike or spent some time cleaning up your yard after a long hard winter, you can probably fill in the blank above with “Back”, ‘Legs”, “Neck”, etc.

It is amazing how muscles and joints that we don’t normally even think about can suddenly command our attention. The soreness and stiffness that we sometimes experience can make us hesitant to jump back into these activities again – but don’t give up! Learning more about preventing and treating sore muscles and aching joints will allow you to continue with the activities you enjoy.

There are several causes for sore muscles. It might be doing an activity that you are not used to or suddenly increasing the intensity of an activity. These changes can cause microdamage to the muscle fibers and connective tissue. It usually doesn’t hurt right away but about a day later you may start feeling sore. The good news is that it will ease in a day or two and the next time you do the activity, your muscles will start to get used to the movement and will become stronger and you’ll become less sore.

Pain in your joints is often a sign of osteoarthritis. The cartilage that cushions the joints wears away and can lead to increased pain with use of that joint. Pain can be caused by overuse or injury.

One way to help prevent sore muscles is through stretching. It is important to stretch properly.

Here are some stretching tips:

  • Stretching should never be painful but should cause your muscle to feel comfortably stretched but never distressed.
  • Take your time and ease into each stretch.
  • Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds and perform the stretch three times.
  • Breathe naturally when you are stretching – never hold your breath!

Always consult your physician before any type of physical activity – including stretching.

If you do have a sore muscle, most experts recommend using ice wrapped in a thin towel for immediate relief. This will help reduce inflammation then you can use heat later to increase blood flow to the area. Heat is often helpful for joint pain.

So, go outside, enjoy the warm spring weather that has finally arrived. But remember, ease into new activities to avoid the aches and pains!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

Sources: Managing Sore Muscles and Joint Pain.

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/art- sore-muscles-joint-pain

Stretching and Flexibility as We Age


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We all know that exercise has many benefits and we can quickly list weight reduction, heart health and disease prevention as common positive results of regular physical activity. But don’t stop there. Recent research shows that keeping physically active provides perks in other areas of our lives as well by improving brain function and mental health.

For children, physical activity may help improve academic performance. Moderate to vigorous physical activity was linked to better academic performance across the three major subjects of English, math and science with increased test scores for both boys and girls.

Exercise helps adult mental health as well. Sometimes we make excuses for not exercising because we are too busy or stressed to fit it into our routine. And the holidays can add another layer of stress as well. Hold on a second — there’s good news when it comes to exercise and stress.

walk sign

Physical activity has some direct stress-busting benefits. It helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or a brisk walk, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations.

Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, is beneficial to your overall wellbeing. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward improving your health. Discover the connection between exercise and mental function — and why exercise should be part of your everyday routine.

Written by: Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA


Physical Activity and Health – the Benefits of Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 26, 2013 http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html#ImproveMentalHealth

Haines, C., MD. Exercise and School Grades – National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 26, 2013

Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress, May Clinic. Retrieved November 26, 2013

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Brain-Exercise1Many people exercise primarily to firm, tone, and/or lose weight. Those are all admirable goals, but they focus primarily on the outside of the body. A big “inside” part of the body affected by physical activity is your brain. We don’t put our heads into exercise equipment or walk upside down (at least not on purpose), so we tend not to think of the brain as an organ affected by exercise. But exercise improves brain function in both children and adults. “I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” says John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”

Why move to help your brain?

• Exercise increases blood flow within the body. This allows the brain cells greater access to the food and oxygen in the blood, which helps improve attention and memory function.
• Exercise increases levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine; neurotransmitters that make the brain’s neurons function more efficiently.
• Aerobic exercise actually causes neuron synapses to grow denser, improving the ability to learn and remember.
• Physical activity builds self-esteem. Even if your body doesn’t change dramatically, the improvement in your fitness level can cause you to feel better about yourself.
• Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and you feel less anxious. Excessive stress can alter brain cells, structure and function.
• Exercise protects the hippocampus, the part of your brain that governs memory and spatial navigation. It is one of the first regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.


Researchers have found that a significant relationship exists between physical activity and cognitive function in children aged 4-18 years. Physical activity improves a youth’s perceptual skills, intelligence quotient (IQ), achievement, verbal tests, mathematic tests, developmental level and academic readiness. Wow! So many good reasons to get your children off the couch and get them moving.


Remember the old song “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the hip bone…?” Your body systems also interconnect when you move. During physical activity, the cardiovascular system ramps up. It in turn tells the renal system to move, which then tells your muscular system to get cracking. Those systems are overseen by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which are also communicating with each other. And topping it all off is the brain. It is the bossiest part of your body; it controls virtually every other part. The brain will be the last part of you that dies. Take good care of it and move–your–body!!


Written by:
Donna Green, BS, MA
Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by:
Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D
NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED
Ohio State University Extension

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Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. Not only is it a fun outdoor activity but is also a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity, which can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. It can also lead to improved health for people with diabetes and heart disease. In fact, research indicates that swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people.

Another positive aspect swimming is that people report enjoying exercising in water more than on land. It is a fun way to get your family participating in physical activities and getting the exercise they need for a healthy lifestyle. For older family member, or people with chronic diseases, swimming is a good choice because they can exercise longer without increased effort or joint or muscle pain. This is especially true for people with arthritis or osteoarthritis, because exercising in water can improve affected joints without worsening symptoms.
Why Swim?
• Have fun with your family
• Exercise in a way that is relaxing and doesn’t hurt your joints
• Decrease the risk of chronic illnesses
• Aerobic exercise in a fun way

While swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life, precautions must also be taken. Americans swim in many places including pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. However, there are also precautions that need to be taken to ensure safety while swimming.
Be safe this summer!

Check out the tips from Center for Disease Control on water safety.
Remember the basics:
• Watch your children at all times – don’t leave them alone for a minute.
• Wear sunscreen and be aware of the dangers of sunburn.
• Don’t get distracted by your phone or books – be aware of drowning risks.
• Practice Water Safety (use life jackets, teach your children to swim).
• Be aware of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI).
• Avoid swallowing pool water or even getting it in your mouth.
• Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.

The Center for Disease Control has information regarding tips to keep your family safe in the water this summer. This information can be found at their website, http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy! In Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits. Last verified on December 23, 2009.
Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. 2008. Swimming and all-cause mortality risk compared with running, walking, and sedentary habits in men. Int J of Aquatic Res and Educ. 2(3):213-23.
Lotshaw AM, Thompson M, Sadowsky S, Hart MK, and Millard MW. 2007. Quality of life and physical performance in land- and water-based pulmonary rehabilitation. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehab and Prev. 27:247-51.

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, green.1405@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu.

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How much physical activity should we have?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents need 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The bulk of the activity should be aerobic (walking, running or other vigorous activity), with some of the 60 minutes spent on muscle strengthening (pushups or gymnastics) and bone strengthening (jumping rope or running – for 3 days a week). Adults need about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

Barriers to becoming fit

You may be able to identify several barriers to getting in the recommended amount of physical activity in each week for yourself and your children. Time – it’s difficult to find consistent times every day when family schedules are already full. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find an activity that the whole family can become involved in when there are varying ages and ability levels. Or maybe you feel like fitness centers and exercise equipment is too expensive. There are ways around each of these barriers….

What can families do together to become fit?

Here are some ways to build physical activity into your family’s daily activities, and some suggestions for new activities together.

Small bits of time are OK. Try 10 minutes of activity at a time. If you cannot find an hour in the schedule, can you squeeze in 10 minutes here and there? Turning off the TV and other electronics might free up enough time to get moving. Can you walk or bike somewhere close by instead of driving?

Play together – have a family game of ball, chase each other around the yard. Even just putting on some music and dancing around the house can be a fun way to incorporate exercise. Plan a family activity each weekend – like going to the playground or taking a nature hike. Explore different types of activities to help kids find something they (and you) enjoy. If family members want to play video games – make it an active one and have a tournament taking turns.

Work together – You can make housework fun and active by putting on some of your family’s favorite tunes and dance while you clean. Yard work can be a great way to be active as a family.

Set family fitness goals – Track your progress with a family log. Get pedometers and county your steps. You can even increase your levels and set higher goals.  Celebrate with a fun activity when you reach a goal.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/move/family-fitness-ideas

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

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Sometimes you need to find ways to sneak activity into your daily life! Below are some tips that might just help you be successful.
Get everyone on board—sometimes it is tough to get the kids to change their lifestyle, but the example Mom and Dad set can go a long way toward adjusting the mindset of the other family members. Any process is easier when you have a support system.
Sometimes the basics are the best, focus on those traditional moves that use your own body weight. Exercises like squats and pushups can often work just as well as expensive machines or workouts.
Make errands counts—park far from your destination so that you and the kids have to walk. Take the stairs rather than the elevator as often as you can.
Do what you love—find activities that your whole family enjoys. Maybe dodge ball or kickball, hiking or bike rides. If everyone likes the activity it is easier to fit it into your schedule.
Modeling behavior—when Mom or Dad has objectives or goals that they set out to achieve the kids will learn from this. It will teach and motivate them to want to do the same.
Make a smart trade or swap—three or four times a week swap an after dinner family walk in place of that dessert.
Set goals—everyone needs a measuring stick for progress. By setting goals the family can be focused on the mission at hand.
Switch things up—hitting a plateau can happen during your fitness mission. Try FITT (frequency, intensity, type or time of routine) – change one of the 4 areas of fitness for an improved you! Your body adjusts to the fitness you have chosen. By changing it up some you can often get beyond the plateau and start seeing progress again.
I hope some of these help as you start on your fall fitness course. Remember it takes about 21 days to break or form a habit, so start one of these healthy habits today!
Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.
Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.
Source: nih.gov/health/public/health/obesity/wecan/get-active

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School starting makes me think of football, soccer, and other fall sports.  Sports provide benefits in many ways.  They increase physical coordination, fitness, self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. Children and adults can benefits both physically and psychologically from playing sports.

With growing bodies which are still developing coordination, children are more susceptible to sports injuries.  Half of all the sports injuries could be prevented with proper safety gear, sports rules that help prevent injuries, and changes to the playing environment.

What can you do to prevent injuries?

  • Make sure your child is wearing the appropriate safety gear and equipment
  • Check to make sure the playing environment is safe
  • Enforce safety rules or make sure they are being followed.
  • Make sure your child and others are staying hydrated during and after playing.

Safety Gear and Equipment

Make sure your child and others have the sport-specific safety gear they need and make sure they use it.  Make sure the gear fits correctly (mouthguards, pads, helmets).  The equipment should be appropriate for their age and size and be in good working condition.  The playing area should be free form debris and water.

Physical Checkup

It’s important that all children and adults have a physical sports’ checkup before they start to play sports.  These physicals help reveal physical strengths and weaknesses which can help determine which sports are appropriate for your child.

When is a child ready to play sports?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children begin participating in team sports at age 6 or when they understand the concept of teamwork.  Starting a child too young will not benefit the child physically.  Each child is different so base your decision on the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Build
  • Physical development
  • Emotional development
  • Child’s interest in the sport

Staying hydrated is important

Sweat lost during sports needs to be replaced with equal amounts of fluids, usually 1 to 1-1/2 liters per hour of intense activity.  When participating in sports you or your child should be drinking fluids before, during, and after each practice or game.  It is best to avoid carbonated drinks and drinks with caffeine.

(Reference: Sports Safety, Ohio State University Medical Center Patient Care materials)

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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We have been enjoying a beautiful early spring with warm days and comfortable nights. This might be the perfect time for you to start a walking program.  There are few other types of exercise that are as easy, accessible and affordable as walking.

Walking provides so many benefits for our bodies. It can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. It can help lower your blood pressure and help you control your type 2 diabetes. Walking can help manage your weight and improve your mood!

If it has been a while since you’ve done any type of exercise, you should check in with your doctor first and start gradually to prevent injury and sore muscles. Start with a time and distance that is comfortable for you – it might only be 5 to 10 minutes the first few days then gradually increase both time and distance.

Be sure that you wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Wear loose fitting clothing and dress in layers to accommodate the weather. If you are walking at night, wear reflective clothing so that motorists can easily see you!

Spend about 5 minutes at the beginning of your walk to warm up your muscles. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for about 5 minutes to cool down your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch!

Keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Walk with a friend when you can. Carry your cell phone, put your name and contact phone number in your pocket. Avoid dark and deserted areas, carry a whistle or pepper spray in case of an emergency, and don’t use a headset that might keep you from hearing traffic.

You can walk alone, with a friend or a pet. You could gather your entire family together!  Some people will enjoy the peace and quiet of walking alone; others enjoy the time spent with family and friends doing an enjoyable activity. Whichever one of these appeals to you, lace up your walking shoes and start walking today!

Sources:  www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking.; www.ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0105.html ; www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/walking-for-exercise

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University ExtensionFurther Reading:

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