You don't need a gym membership or fancy equipment to get an hour of physical activity each day. You can exercise without equipment, with limited time and little space using these five activities. Try them when you need a burst of energy at work, school, home—or anywhere!
Start with your knees on the ground, feet lifted and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Put your body into a kneeling plank position. You can also do these on the wall to start or on your toes as you gain more strength.
Start by lying face down. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest and prop yourself onto your toes and forearms. Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag toward the ground. These can also be done in a kneeling position. Start by holding this position for 10 seconds and work your way up to a longer time.
You don't need a big budget to make your worksite a healthy place for staff and visitors. Here are some budget-friendly—and effective—employee wellness program ideas.
Start a walking group
Walking has many benefits. It reduces risks for coronary heart disease and stroke; improves blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipid profiles; enhances mental health; and reduces risks of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
Walking during the work day may have more immediate benefits. Physical activity has been linked to improved concentration, better memory recall, faster learning, enhanced creativity and reduced stress—all of which lead to better job performance. So why not round up a group of co-workers and walk together?
Recess is a great way to get kids active during the school day, and it has many benefits. School recess has been proven to:
- Increase the amount of physical activity students get each day
- Improve memory, attention, and concentration
- Help students stay on-task in the classroom
- Reduce disruptive behavior in the classroom
- Improve social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate)
But simply putting recess on the schedule doesn't guarantee that students are active during this time each day. School administrators, teachers, support staff, parent volunteers, and others can take simple steps to encourage physical activity during recess:
The causes of the obesity epidemic are numerous and complex, but no doubt our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is a key contributor.
Experts recommend a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day—for children and adults alike—but it doesn't have to happen all at once. In fact, peppering the day with short bursts of low-intensity physical activity has substantial health benefits that rival longer single sessions of vigorous activity.
Why do we need physical activity breaks?
Frequent activity breaks help the heart work more efficiently. They also help trim waistlines, improve blood pressure and lower triglycerides and other blood fat levels. Other facts:
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and sweets. If you're planning to celebrate Valentine's Day in your home, classroom, or child care, take advantage of the opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:
Healthy Snacks and Treats to Love
Fruit & Vegetable Bouquet
Use heart and flower-shaped cookie cutters to cut fresh fruits and vegetables such as melon and bell peppers. Place them on green skewers and arrange them into a bouquet. Tie together with red or pink ribbon. Students may enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing.
Create healthy sandwiches using whole grain bread and strawberry fruit spread. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out mini heart sandwiches.
Valentine's Day Taste Test
Host a taste test at your party using red fruits and vegetables. Pomegranate, cranberries, apples, blood oranges, raspberries, red peppers and cherry tomatoes are great options. Have students vote on their favorite red fruit and vegetable.
2016 Year in Review - part one in a series of four
The new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect on 2016 and our progress in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. In this series of four Year in Review stories, we summarize some of our most significant accomplishments to date.
Jump IN’s mission is to promote policies and practices that create healthy environments where families and children have real opportunities to make healthy choices and engage in healthy behaviors.Much of Jump IN’s work is grounded in this fact:
Changing the environment is the best way to change behaviors.
Research shows that if healthy nutrition and physical activity policies can be implemented in the places where children and families spend most of their time, their health will likely improve. Here’s how we helped schools, child care centers, worksites, and family homes embed healthy nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in 2016:
Young children need lots of time to move their bodies—at home, at daycare, and in preschool. Movement helps children develop motor skills, which are important to all other areas of development—language, cognition, social, emotional, and adaptive skills. Children need encouragement, instruction, and opportunity to develop their motor skills. Help support this by practicing these tips.
Teach your kids how to move
Movement skills don't always develop naturally. Try purposefully including movements such as the ones below in your play time with children:
- Up to 1 year old: stretching, patting, grasping, releasing, creeping, crawling
- 1 to 2 years old: clapping, grabbing, squeezing, pressing, stamping, pushing, pulling, jumping
- 2 to 3 years old: twisting, balancing, waddling, climbing, marching, rolling, sliding, turning
- 3 to 4 years old: hopping, tossing, galloping, jumping, slithering, darting, bouncing, trudging
- 4 to 5 years old: tumbling, running, galloping, prancing, skipping, throwing, catching, tip-toeing, bending, stretching, collapsing, sneaking, trotting, kicking, batting
When you think about ways to improve student achievement, does providing students with physical activity come to mind? It should. Active students have better concentration, fewer behavior problems, and higher performance on reading, writing, and math tests.
Image from Active Living Research’s “Active Education: Growing Evidence on Physical Activity and Academic Performance,” based on research by Dr. Charles Hillman, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
These two brain images, taken from the top of the head, represent the average amount of students’ neural activity during a test following sitting and walking for 20 minutes. The color blue represents lower neural activity, while the color red denotes higher brain activity in a given region. So students who walked prior to the test showed more brain activity.
Studies show that too many students spend too much time standing around in P.E. class. Innovative P.E. instructors are changing their curriculum to keep students active:
- Less emphasis on competitive team sports
- More emphasis on fun and lifetime fitness skills
- More focus on engaging all students, regardless of athletic ability
- Increased tracking of individual physical fitness with digital tools like FitnessGram
This isn’t your parents’ P.E. class. Trends in physical education include replacing rope climbs and kickball with:
School recess is a highly effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children, because it is a strategy that can reach every student every day. Because of that, all schools should adopt a “No Lost Recess” policy as part of their school wellness plans.
Here’s an example from one school’s recess policy:
- A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity shall be provided by schools for all K-8 students daily. This requirement can be achieved through activities such as recess, dance, classroom energizers, or other curriculum-based physical activity programs. However, this time should complement and not substitute for the physical education program.
- Structured/unstructured recess and other physical activity (such as, but not limited to, physical activity time, physical education, or intramurals) shall not be taken away from students as a form of punishment. In addition, severe and inappropriate exercise may not be used as a form of punishment for students.
Recess helps a child’s ability to process information, pay attention, and remain on-task, so it should not be taken away as a punishment for unwanted behavior or unfinished class work. In fact, the longer the stretch between recess breaks at school, the higher the inattentiveness among students.