Regional Health In Focus: Physical Activity

Why do we need physical activity?

physical activityPhysical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being active helps you stay healthy as you age, and it can prevent obesity and other chronic diseases, like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. It can boost your mood, reduce stress, help you focus, and improve your sleep. In addition to these benefits, regular physical activity can also help children do their best at school.

Unfortunately, only about half of American adults get the physical activity they need each day. Many children and adolescents are also falling short of national physical activity guidelines.

physical activityOur community:

In the North Country, rates of physical activity are showing signs of improvement.

4 out of 5 adults in the North Country say they walk at least 30 minutes a day.

In 2018, 81% of adults said they walked for at least 30 minutes as part of their daily routine. This was higher than in 2017, when just 71% said they walked for at least a half hour a day.

However, there are still improvements to be made. Ideally, everyone in our region should be getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day — and children and teens should be getting at least 60 minutes a day!

How can I be physically active?

The best way to get physical activity is to make it part of your daily routine. Keep moving throughout the day! Even things that don’t feel like exercise — like gardening, dancing, shopping, or playing with your children — count as physical activity.

Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which includes anything that gets your heart beating faster. That’s only about 20 minutes a day!

Children and teens (ages 6-17) need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Most of this exercise can be moderate-intensity, but at least three days a week, encourage your kids to step it up to high-intensity activity. Kids need this high-intensity exercise — like running or playing sports — to build strong muscles and bones.

Kids younger than 6 love to be active! Try to keep them moving for at least three hours a day, and limit time they spend sitting.

Communities can help promote physical activity too!

By making environmental and/or policy changes, our local towns and villages can make physical activity easier for everyone. Here are a few examples of health-conscious community changes:

Complete Streets are streets designed to be safe for users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists. Research shows more people walk and bike in communities that have Complete Streets.
School Wellness Policies are being created by local schools to give children opportunities for physical activity before, during, and after school. School Wellness Policies can also include guidelines for healthy eating and snacking.
Worksite Wellness Policies are being adopted by businesses and organizations in our region, promoting physical activity in the workplace. Ideas include: walking groups, office exercise space, or taking the stairs, among others.

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