It’s always a good time to be active and physically fit, but May is the official health awareness month recognition – National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Why not take this opportunity to make May the month you step up your game? Revisit your New Year’s goals. Try a new sport. Plan a family fitness outing or establish an active game night. You could even set up a home gym or a designated indoor exercise space. However, you choose to celebrate it, the idea is to #MoveinMay.
Here’s an acronym for FIT that might help you remember to do it:
Fun – make it fun
Improve — set goals to improve your fitness level and your health
Time — set time aside and build it into your schedule so it will happen
Yes, the top tip is to make it fun. You and your family and friends will have better success maintaining a consistent fitness routine when you make it fun.
One mom of four shared that she and her family make a regular habit of taking family walks around the park. “Usually, we bring balls and things to play catch with or shoot hoops. If there is a local track, we’ll run laps together. Or we might do race relays in the grassy area.” Sometimes they bring their bikes, and the entire family rides. As for her younger children, she said, “Making games out of the playground equipment allows them to explore different obstacles, not realizing they are “exercising,” but just playing and having fun.”
Another motivation for parents is the example they set to inspire their children to lead an active, healthier life.
Here are a few other tips:
• Stuck at home? Try dancing!
• Can’t make it to the gym as frequently as you’d like? Reduce the excuses by buying some free weights and a mat for home. They are reasonably affordable.
• App it – Don’t just stare at your phone; use it to help! You can use your phone to keep track of your steps. There also are numerous downloadable apps that can inspire and help you keep track of your fitness and nutrition goals. One of the top fitness apps is MyFitnessPal.
• Movement counts – even chores. On the flip side of fun, you can still have a rewarding “double duty” experience of getting something done around the house or in the yard while accomplishing your daily movement quota.
Tips for motivation if you don’t feel like exercising:
1.) Set your clothing out the night before. It will be easier to say yes when you have that visual reminder.
2.) Find a partner. Working out with a partner helps keep you accountable, and it’s also a great social activity.
3.) Share your goals. In this age of social media, you can post your goals and receive feedback from others to help root you on.
4.) Set realistic goals. Don’t try to set marathon goals without first accomplishing smaller steps.
What level of activity do you need?
Kids and teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
Adults need at least 30 minutes a day and at least 150 minutes a week.
Adults should have a mix of cardio and muscle-strengthening activity with at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening. Visit this link to find a helpful activity planner to stay on track.
Benefits of physical activity
Everyone knows being physically active is good for you, but we need continual reminding. Scan this list of benefits, and you might be surprised at some of the benefits you have forgotten. And even if you know them all, let them sink in as inspiration and share that inspiration to motivate someone else.
• Improve your fitness level
• Reduce stress
• Reduce the risk of chronic disease
• Increase serotonin and boost your mood
• Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
• Sharpen your focus
• Improve sleep
• Develop social skills for youth
• Maintain mobility and independence for older adults
• Earn rewards as an employee as some company health plans offer rewards for fitness
New Guidelines for Physical Activity
You may know a lot about physical fitness since you had PE in school, and you may have been active your entire life. But we can all learn something new. If you’d like to explore this subject further, take advantage of a comprehensive 118-page booklet the Department of Health and Human Services has published – “The second edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” You can download the PDF here.
Don’t let May get away from you without taking time to reinvigorate and recommit to your fitness plan. As for that new sport, consider pickleball. It’s a less physically demanding racquet sport than tennis and is the fastest growing sport in America. Many communities are even starting to add public pickleball courts to their facilities. See if yours has one. In a nation plagued by inactivity and obesity, buck the status quo and pledge to be more active – starting this month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.