Despite what we know about the benefits of physical fitness relative to health, weight, longevity and emotional well-being, as a nation, on average, we remain alarmingly sedentary. This fact applies more to people than to dogs. We tend to actually prefer walking to lying around all day. To call attention to the situation, and in an effort to affect change, the President’s Council has named May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
As far as physical fitness, these statistics released by Fitness.Gov demonstrate the need for improvement:
- Only one in three children are physically active every day.
- Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
- More than 80% of adolescents do not get enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
- Nationwide, 25.6% of persons with a disability reported being physically inactive during a usual week.
- Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
- Only six states require physical education in every grade, K-12.
- Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for three or more hours on an average school day.
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
- Unfit dogs are usually mirror images of their physically unfit masters. So take advantage of your pet’s desire to stay active. Take your dog for a walk!
For those who remain unconvinced, there is ample evidence that exercise drastically improves physical health for people and pets of all ages. Here are five ways physical activity can vastly improve lives:
- Improve muscular fitness and bone and heart health.
- Lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
- Reduce the risk of falls and improve cognitive functioning (like learning and judgment skills).
- Control weight – Not only does physical fitness burn calories, but muscle burns more calories than fat. So modest strength training and cardio affect weight. And maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) reduces a myriad of health issues.
- Improve mental health and mood – The CDC maintains that regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
- Dogs who exercise are happier and live longer than their sedentary peers.
What to do
- Start slowly and build gradually so you won’t abandon an overly ambitious workout routine.
- Make small changes, like taking a walk after dinner, walking your dog, parking far away instead of fighting for a spot close to your destination or riding a bike.
- WebMD reports that inexpensive, easy-to-use pedometers are proven to motivate people to move more and sit less.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water before and after you exercise, even if you aren’t thirsty. Drink a cup of water every 15 minutes during your workout, as well.
- To prevent soreness and injury and increase flexibility, stretch for five to 10 minutes after workouts, when body temperature and muscles are warm, and hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
For more information about Physical Fitness & Sports, check out the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to begin or maintain a regular physical fitness routine for optimal health. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.