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Posts Tagged ‘physical activity’

Did you know that giving gifts can be good for the gift giver? There are numerous research studies showing the health benefits to gift giver of improved physical and mental health. Giving can lower your blood pressure, heighten happiness, and improve our self-esteem.  While we are often on the lookout for that perfect gift for our family members, maybe this is the year to look for a gift that encourages wellness.

Several years ago our Blog featured an article that had many wellness gift ideas for adults, while those ideas are still wonderful we thought it might be time to focus on healthy gift ideas for children too. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • Board games are great – they typically promote family time, often include physical activity, boost math skills, and get everyone away from the TV.
  • Little ChefsChildren’s cookbooks and child size cooking equipment – purchase equipment they need to make the recipes in the book or give them their own grocery store gift card to buy the food they need for a couple recipes. I can still remember the year my daughter got an apron, tiny rolling pin and baking sheet when she was about 6 years old. She loved using them.
  • Play farms, farmer’s markets, or kitchens – these toys encourage young children to think about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
  • Books – especially those that encourage physical activity. Almost any child’s book is a great gift for the family who reads together, but those that encourage activity are even better. Look for themes like hiking, dancing, soccer, or swimming. Books that encourage giving are also a positive addition.
  • Craft or electronic kits and building blocks – gifts that encourage creativity and building work the side of our brains that often gets neglected. They also promote problem solving and originality.
  • Bikes, sleds, hula hoops, or fishing poles – all encourage families to get moving. Don’t forget to get the necessary safety equipment like a helmet or shin pads.outdoor-play
  • Pay the registration fee for a child to participate in lessons – think dance class, soccer club, archery, or swim. You may want to check with parents before getting this gift or be prepared to help with driving the carpool.
  • Give a coupon for the child to pick a day at a city, state or national park. This may include hiking, canoeing, or participating in a class offered by wildlife personnel. Promise to go with them!
  • Seeds, herb gardens, or plants – they promote science, encourage children to learn responsibility, and can be used when cooking if they grow herbs or vegetables.
  • Help children pick wellness gifts for their friends or other family members – this encourages them to think about healthy options and helps them to promote wellness in others.

What gifts are you going to buy your family to encourage wellness and health? Comment below to let us know your ideas.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County, and Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Perry County.

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

The Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/

Ohio State University Extension, Live Healthy Live Well, https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/12/04/give-a-gift-of-wellness-this-holiday-season/

Purdue University, http://www.purdue.edu/uns/html3month/2006/061205T-DeHavenFitness.html

Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare/news/2014/art-an-opportunity-to-develop-childrens-skills

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walk-to-school

I can remember my grandmother telling us how she used to walk several miles to school, and if she was lucky she got a ride in a horse and buggy. She was always healthy even in old age, when I knew her.

October is International Walk to School Month. Students in different countries, including the United States, will be walking to school this fall. The goal of International Walk to School Month is to promote bicycling and walking as viable transportation options to and from school. Why? According to a Talking Points bulletin from the National Center from Safe Routes to School:

  • 1 out of 5 children are overweight. Walking or biking allows students time for physical activity of which they need at least 60 minutes per day. More active children are less prone to becoming overweight and developing chronic diseases earlier in life.
  • Walking and biking to school gives children a sense of responsibility and independence. It also allows time to socialize with parents, friends and neighbors which enhances sense of community.
  • Walking and biking reduces traffic congestion and thus improves air quality.
  • Steady increases in gas prices and greater distances between school and home have strained school transportation budgets across the country. In 1980, the average cost of transporting a student was $466. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost per student in 2006 was $765! Walking and biking are low-cost alternatives.

Unfortunately, fewer children walk or bike to school than did so a generation ago. Today 16% of children walk to school today as compared to 42% in 1969. There are many reasons for this statistic including distance to schools, perceptions of crime, lack of sidewalks, school busing policies, traffic concerns and lack of motivation. Many students are not able to walk or bike even if they wanted to due to the distance between their schools and home. Schools are moving out to the edge of town where land is less expensive and more available. In 1969 about 45% of students lived less than a mile from school as compared to about 25% today. However, many students who live relatively close (<1 mile) chose not to walk due to one or more of the aforementioned barriers. Many of these barriers could be addressed during Walk to School events in October.

During the month, participating students could meet at designated locations and will walk with adult volunteers along designated safe routes to school. Students and volunteers could complete “walking audits” and identify barriers along the way (dilapidated sidewalks, barking dogs etc.) The audits could later be used to engage the community to address these barriers. After the walk, the school could offer a breakfast and celebration for participants and volunteers. Non-walking students might be able to participate in special walking activities during recess. To encourage walking throughout the rest of the year, students could be eligible for prizes if they walk or bike to school or if they participate in designated walking activities.

If you are interested in learning more about Walk to School you can visit the walk to school day website at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ready/about-the-events/walk-to-school-day. This website offers much of the information that your community would need to plan for a walk to school event.

Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School. Why Walk or Bicycle to School? Talking Points accessed from http://www.walktoschool.org/downloads/WTS-talking-points-2009.pdf

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When my daughter was a toddler, she had a talking toy Bullwinkle Moose that said “walking is good for you!”  For years it was a bit of a family joke and every time we went for a walk, someone had to quote Bullwinkle.      walking_focus_destress

Now, science is firmly behind the concept that walking really is good for you!  Among others, the American Heart Association promotes the positive benefits of walking. The simple of activity of walking can:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids profile.
  • Maintain your body weight and lower risk of obesity.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes.

What do you need to start walking?  Basically you just need comfortable supportive shoes and a safe place to walk.

The Mayo Clinic gives some suggestions for starting and maintaining a walking habit.

  • Set yourself up for success! Have a simple, attainable goal. Maybe the first week you plan to walk 5 minutes at lunch time.  Once that becomes a habit, gradually add time to your walk.
  • Track your progress. It can be very motivating to see how many miles you have walked in a week, month or year. You can record this in a journal, a spreadsheet or an online app.
  • Make it enjoyable. Some people like to walk alone, listening to music or just enjoying some “me” time. Others prefer to walk with a friend or two. Find out what works for you.
  • Vary your routine. Plan a couple of different routes – walk outside when possible or join others walking at the gym or local mall. If you’re walking alone, let someone know where you will be walking. Keep your cell phone in your pocket for emergency calls! If you have a light or whistle, take it with you.
  • If you miss a day or two, don’t give up! Remind yourself how good you felt when you were walking regularly and ease back into it.

While walking is a relatively low risk activity, you still want to think of preventing injuries to yourself. If you haven’t been active, start slow and gradually add to your time, distance and speed.  To avoid blisters, some studies have shown that synthetic fiber socks can be better than cotton socks which absorb moisture and increase friction. Shin splints (pain on the front of your lower leg) and knee pain can be prevented or minimized by wearing proper, supportive footwear and stretching and strengthening the supportive muscles.

Remember, every step you take helps you lead a healthier life. So, get up, lace on your walking shoes and get going!

walking shoes

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension, Franklin County rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension ,Pickaway County treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
The American Heart Association.  Walking, Take the first step.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walking_UCM_460870_SubHomePage.jsp

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Want to stay in shape but don’t have a lot of time for your regular work-out routine? Then do a plank exercise!  Planks are one of the most effective exercises offering considerable results.  They take a short amount of time, no equipment, and offer many benefits including:

  • Not many exercises strengthen multiple muscles at the same time. There are movements that strengthen muscles in your arms or legs, but the plank exercise can help strengthen frontal upper and lower-body muscles and inner core strength, all at once.
  • Planks can also help improve mental strength. If you have a sedentary job, tension can build if you tend to slump forward. Doing planks can help stretch muscles that may become stiff during the day, contributing to stress. They may also help calm your brain, reducing stress.
  • Since plank exercises activate core muscles, they can help prevent swayback or flat back and improve your posture as a result.
  • Plank exercises can help increase flexibility in muscle groups, stretching and expanding your posterior muscles including the hamstrings and even the arches of your feet.

Plank Photo

Photo courtesy of Dana Dowling/Demand Media

How to do a Plank

A good plank requires proper alignment. Everything should be in a straight line, including your ears, shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles.  Here’s how to do a standard plank:

  1. Start on all fours, kneeling on your hands and knees. You can use a towel or blanket folded underneath your knees if you need padding. Make sure your hands align directly beneath your shoulders. Feet should be hip-width apart, toes can be curled under.
  2. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor. Your body weight should be on your forearms, not on your hands.
  3. Pull in your stomach, engaging your core muscles.
  4. Hold the position for 10 seconds, gradually adding time as you feel comfortable.

Sources: Women’s Health, 4 Secrets to the Perfect Plank, Roberts, A. October 28, 2014.

Huffington Post, Fix Your Form: How to do the Perfect Plank, June 5, 2012.

Livestrong.com, What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise? March 21, 2016.

Written by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Spires, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension.

 

 

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I’m already late for work and now I’m in the middle of a traffic jam?  How am I going to get the kids to gymnastics, soccer and tee ball practices at the same time?  Everyone’s coming home at a different time tonight and we’re supposed to have supper together?  Make sure and schedule quality time for myself?  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

Stress Management:  Rules for the Weary    stress taming

  • Stress is part of life.
  • Not all stress is bad.
  • Only you can prevent stress disorders.
  • Stress management is a lifestyle, not a technique.
  • As in life, success requires certain skills.
  • With practice and guidance, skills can be learned.

Coping with Minor Stressors

Research at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State’s internationally recognized center for the study of body-mind interaction, has resulted in key findings related to how stressors in marriage and care-giving impact health; how stress can lessen vaccine effectiveness; how stress can aggravate allergies and asthma; and the development of interventions that can lessen the effects of stress and promote health.

Try some of the following to help cope with stress:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use meditation, relaxation exercises or breathing techniques.
  • Look at situations from a variety of perceptions.
  • Talk and share with friends.
  • Journal and clarify why things bother you.

Name it, Tame it and Bust that Stress!

  • List Priorities: Write down what is most important for you to do and then number from 1 to? With 1 being the most important for you to accomplish.
  • Plan Rest Periods: Schedule for “taking a break” in your daily activities.
  • Perfection: There is no perfect “anything”. Do the best you can and congratulate and reward yourself for it.
  • Exercise: (I think we talked about this earlier!) Try to exercise in your usual manner.  Or, start to exercise.
  • Childlike: Have FUN! Engage in playful activities.  Watch children play to remind yourself about “how to play”.
  • Spending: Be mindful of your spending.
  • Emotional Health: Talk with supportive people. Listen with empathy.  Use non-judgmental approaches.  Say “No” to avoid overdoing.
  • Gratitude: Be grateful for what you have and don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

One final thought about Taming Stress

In the words of Somerset Maugham, “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

Remember to always choose the “Best” for yourself!

stress taming 2

 

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Lisa M. Borelli LISW-S, Counselor, Ohio State Employee Assistance Program, The Ohio State University Health Plan, Columbus, Ohio.  Stress Taming.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

onCampus.  February 11, 2016, 16th Annual Health and Wellness Guide, Wellness is a journey, Pages 7-18.  http://go.osu.edu/HealthWellnessGuide

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You have probably heard about the increasing number of children who are overweight and the efforts to decrease the trend. 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! is a national childhood obesity prevention program which focuses on policy and environmental changes to increase physical activity and healthy eating for children through age 18. Let’s Go! works with youth and families through a collaboration of six sectors including schools, early childhood, communities, workplace, out of school and healthcare.  While the initiative originated in Maine through the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, communities across the nation have implemented the program.

 

The goal of the campaign is to change unhealthy behaviors and adopt healthier habits. While the primary target is youth, people of all ages can benefit from the guidelines.  Strategies are evidence-based and the messages are consistent and simple:

  • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Spend 2 hours or less of screen time – television, smart phone, video games, etc.
  • Enjoy 1 hour or more of physical activity each day
  • Consume 0 sweetened beverages per day, such as soda, juice and energy drinks

5-2-1-0 graphic

Graphic courtesy of Keys for Healthy Kids

Collaboration is key to the success of the program in any state. Teams of nutrition, health and education specialists develop trainings to provide to partners within the community setting.  Some of the successful strategies that have worked for Maine and Florida include:

Engage community partners to support healthy eating and active living

Prohibit food being used as a reward

Implement staff wellness programs that incorporate physical activity and healthy eating

Provide water rather than sugar-sweetened beverages

Limit unhealthy snacks provided for celebrations, offering healthy snacks instead

In 2015, more than 350,000 children and their families living in Maine were reached through 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! Future opportunities of the program may be extended to parents in the home environment and disabled children.

 

Sources: The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! http://www.letsgo.org/

Florida Health, Palm Beach County, http://www.5210letsgo.com/

Jennifer Even, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County

Reviewer:  Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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Many people go into a hibernation mode during the winter months, and end up gaining extra pounds after all the food and drink. Physical activity is important every time of the year, and the CDC recommends least 150 minutes a week of moderate activities (like brisk walking) and at least 2 days a week of strength training. Regular physical activity helps manage stress, weight gain, and can prevent the development of chronic disease. Many people workout at a gym during the winter months and don’t venture out much. However, there are many health benefits of spending time outside regardless of the season. Spending time in nature can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve your moods, increase your ability to focus, increase your recovery from surgery, increase your energy level, an improve sleep.

Winter physical activity requires some precautions. During cold days, hats and gloves are the most important clothing articles since they protect body parts that are easily frostbitten. Around 30-40% of body heat is lost through your head. Dress in appropriate layers, so when you get hot, you can remove layers of clothes. Consider a tight inner layer made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene, which will wick moisture away from the skin. If walking on the roadside, make sure to have reflective clothing, especially during the darker winter months. Don’t forget to bring water, and drink fluids before and after exercising. You can become just as dehydrated in cold weather as hot! Don’t forget about sunscreen as well, if you will be out for long periods.

The best time to enjoy the great outdoors is in the winter! Go for a hike, snowshoe, cross country ski, sled, or just get outside! The cold air is refreshing, and will raise your metabolism to burn off some of those holiday calories. You can enjoy the solitude of many national and state parks. You may see wildlife like coyotes, owls, waterfowl, and other birds that you wouldn’t normally see when parks are crowded. Without leaves on the trees, you’ll have the opportunity for scenic views on the ridges of hilltops. Ice formations are spectacular in places with rock formations, such as the Hocking Hills. An added bonus- no bugs or poison Ivy!!!

Consider exploring a hiking trail nearby. In Ohio, we have the Buckeye Trail. The trail is about 1500 miles, runs around the perimeter of Ohio, and is marked by a blue blaze. The trail consists of 26 sections, each section named after a town or feature that it runs through. The trail traverses the diverse topologies and geographies of Ohio, including the southern and eastern Appalachian foothills, the western plains, and the northern Earie Basin. The trail also meanders through many small towns but also large cities such as Dayton where it passes through the Five Rivers Metro Park and aviation museums. Consider getting a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, and log in your steps or miles on the trail. Many Appalachian Trail hikers complete “sections” of the trail at different time points. Consider hiking sections of the Buckeye trail and see how many miles you can log in.

Happy trails!!

Sources:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/activewinter.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

http://www.buckeyetrail.org/overview.php

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

 

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