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May is Physical Activity Month: Here's Why and How

by ACSM May 4, 2011

Smiles abound in the Midwest and throughout the country as things green up and warm up outdoors. Warm weather invites people to be more active, delighting in options that winter weather doesn't afford. While playing and moving outside are enjoyable in themselves, recent research gives even more reasons. Here's a glimpse of what participants learned from the many topics covered at the recent ACSM Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition. You might keep these in mind as you make plans to enjoy May, with the complementary themes of Physical Activity Month and Exercise is Medicine Month.

Sitting still is hazardous to your health

The new science of sedentary behavior, or "inactivity physiology," provides sobering evidence that merely sitting can be hazardous to your health. Len Kravitz, Ph.D., reported on research by Dr. Steven Blair and others, showing that adults and children who spend 70 percent or more of each waking day working at a desk, riding in a car, watching TV or working at a computer are particularly at risk. He explained that sitting results in dramatic drops in lipoprotein lipase, which captures fat from blood and uses it as fuel. This leads to soaring levels of triglycerides, elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and lower levels of good cholesterol. I've seen how exercise improves all those conditions in my patients.

"Miracle-Gro for the brain"

Many of us love to garden, whether for exercise, aesthetics or nutrition. At the summit, Dr. Terry Eckmann appealed to that interest with a vivid simile for the boost that exercise gives to cognitive functioning, saying it's "like Miracle-Gro for the brain." A protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is behind the phenomenon. BDNF increases the growth of brain cells and improves brain functioning. The brain uses about 20 percent of the body's supplies of oxygen and glucose, and exercise boosts the cardiovascular system's ability to deliver them.

Worksite wellness pays off

Employers must tend to the bottom line. Those who implement worksite wellness programs are seeing healthy returns in terms of dollars saved, worker productivity, reduced absenteeism, and other measures. George J. Pfeiffer, president of the WorkCare Group, said most companies see a net return on investment in three to five years. For some, the ROI is as high as six-to-one. Pfeiffer and other panelists reviewed case studies from Target, Chevron, Northrop Grumman and Clark Security Products. Their key suggestions include:

  • Value worksite wellness. Understand and communicate all the benefits of worksite wellness - financial and otherwise.
  • Communicate a culture of health. Using formal and informal communication channels, develop a transparent brand for your health management strategy. Focus on vitality and well-being.
  • Engage your organization from the top down and from the bottom up. Encourage employee engagement by getting buy-in from top and middle management. Also allow for employee volunteers to be your wellness champions within the company.

How can you observe Physical Activity Month at home, at work and elsewhere?

Resource: International Association for Worksite Health Promotion

Comments

5/6/2011 3:02:21 PM #

think of this...riding on a bike to work this month of May other than driving

Afrika United States |

5/21/2011 11:31:22 PM #

My family and I do simple things like parking in a far spot when going to the store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, and our favorite, playing Wii games! There are plenty of games that make exercising fun! It is important to teach children to exercise when they are young, and that it can be fun! It does not have to be running, or lifting weights, get outside and play a game of basketball or go for a bike ride!

FJaafar United States |

4/19/2012 9:18:24 PM #

I also tip. You can Wifi games, absolutely very need effort

Emrah Turkey |

5/30/2011 11:02:56 PM #

I continually think that it is amazing to read about all of the health benefits related to physical activity. These new studies again reaffirm the importance of getting up and being active, from the youngest of children to the oldest of adults, physical activity is beneficial for everyone. I especially like the idea of employers integrating worksite wellness programs for their employees. This seems like it would be very advantageous for all the employees and the company itself. I believe that we can increase people's physical activity by providing easy opportunities for implementing activity, appealing to them with incentives, and integrating activity into their normal routines.

Brianna United States |

6/1/2011 4:25:44 AM #

Very nice post.. It's worth a visit! Well honestly for me Physical activity is the number one answer for a healthy lifestyle. Learned something from this post! thanks a lot!

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Redrick United States |

9/24/2011 2:56:15 PM #

Value worksite wellness. Understand and communicate all the benefits of worksite wellness - financial and otherwise.(Link Removed)

hampton bay United States |

10/2/2011 10:55:24 PM #

Thks for the great article. The fitness revolution is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle. Its sad when people dun recognise the benefits and enjoyment of physical activities and prefer to live a sedentary lifestyle

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Mary W Mulligan United States |

1/11/2012 12:31:48 PM #

I like that they were very detailed about not sitting still can effect your health.

Phoebe Ballard United States |

1/11/2012 1:43:49 PM #

I learned that I need to get outside more and exercise because I have some family that does not do anything. So I need to put down the controler and remote and drop the chips and go outside.

Tommy Boy United States |

1/11/2012 2:55:41 PM #

towards your "feel smarter in just 30 mintutes" i really thought this article could help many kids trying to understand how important exercising really is in our average day. i think it makes alot of sense that obesity is related to other harmful deseases. this article really helped !

Kimber Brooke United States |

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