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Physical Activity for Every Age

By Daniel Smoots, MD Family Medicine 

Physical activity and exercise can seem like one more item to add to the to-do list, but there are good reasons why striving to get daily movement and exercise on to your family’s schedule is so important. There are many benefits to look forward to, from better physical and mental health, to quality family bonding time. Developing good exercise habits with your children provides an opportunity for encouragement and positive feedback which builds self-esteem and confidence, and helps motivate and maintain good habits as they grow. 

Why should we exercise?

  • Exercise is shown to improve physical health: controls weight, strengthens bones and muscles, gives you more energy, and leads to more restful sleep 
  • Activity and exercise are good for mental health: reduces anxiety, depression, and leads to higher self-esteem, and improved mood

How much exercise should a child get (CDC recommendations)? 

  • Children of different ages need different amounts of exercise, according to the CDC
  • 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day (ex: fast walking, playing)
  • Vigorous-intensity activities 3 times a week (ex: running, playing fast-moving sport)
  • Muscle and bone strengthening activities 3 times a week (ex: climbing, push-ups, jumping)
  • Toddlers should engage in active play throughout the day 

How much exercise should an adult get?

  • 150 minutes (or 30 minutes 5 days a week) moderate-intensity aerobics each week 
  • Muscle and bone strengthening 2 times a week (resistance or weight training)

What are good ways to exercise together as a family?

  • Take a family walk, go to the park, hike, bike ride or rollerblade, play a game (ex: tag, hide and seek), try yoga, go swimming
  • Play sports. Soccer, basketball, tennis, racquetball can be played at varying levels depending on your family’s ages and skill levels

How to make exercise more engaging for children?

  • Make an activity chart to pick from or check off, spin a wheel to choose the activity, have them create and lead a new game, or build an obstacle course (add some competition for timing for who gets through the fastest)
  • Have them count the steps. Take the stairs, park further away in parking lots 
  • Have a dance party (helps get the “wiggles” out, and also a good aerobic activity when done for at least 10 minutes to upbeat music)

Make it a time that the family looks forward to by keeping it simple and fun, trying new things, and learning new skills. Find a way to get moving together as a family and feel and see the benefits!

Exercise Options: Alternatives to the Gym

By By Nicole Vaudrin O’Reilly, MS, RD |Nutrition Educator

Physical activity is an important part of health and wellness. Not everyone can go to a gym, especially during the pandemic. Thankfully, there are many other exercise options. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any physical or health limitations. Remember to follow COVID precautions, like wearing a mask and washing your hands, in public places.

Recommendations

  • For adults: at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ex. brisk walking, riding a bike, and mowing the lawn). Preferably, also with 2 days a week of muscle strengthening exercises (ex. Lifting weights, using resistance bands, and some forms of yoga).
  • For children ages 6 to 17 years old: at least 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity most days and at least 3 days a week of muscle strengthening exercises.
  • For more information, please check out CDC guidelines.

Outdoor exercise options

  • Walk or jog around your neighborhood
  • Hike at a local trail
  • Play basketball, frisbee, tennis, etc. in your own yard or a park
  • Jump rope in your garage or outside
  • Take a bike ride
  • Do gardening and yard work

Home options

Join a team or take a group class

  • There are less options during the pandemic, but joining a team or taking group classes is a fun and social choice. Many places are offering virtual options.
  • PHXPlays is the largest organization in the valley that provides classes and team sports for youth and adults. Check them out here.
  • Your local gym may have classes, or you can go to a specialized studio for things like martial arts, spin, barre, yoga, etc.

Physical activity is one very important piece to overall health and wellness. Learn more about the many services our nutrition team can offer in NOAH’s individualized, comprehensive healthcare.

Get in Shape in 2021

by Dr. Ryan Stempniak, Resident PGY 1- Heuser Family Medicine Center

The new year is here which means New Years resolutions. For many of us that means introducing more exercise into our daily routine. Due to the pandemic, going to the gym may not be the ideal choice of exercise for a lot of people so I wanted to share some safe ways to get back into shape and provide some information to help you feel safer and healthier in this new year.

Tips for getting in shape:

  • The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or both spread throughout the week. This equates to about 20-25 minutes per day of walking or riding a bike, or 10-15 minutes of running, hiking uphill, fast walking or swimming per day.
  • For school aged children and teens the recommendation is 60 minutes of moderate-intensity to vigorous exercise per day, and for toddlers about 3 hours of active play on their feet each day.
  • Although being outdoors may pose less of a risk of contracting COVID 19, remember to keep at least 6 feet apart from others while exercising and wearing a mask while exercising may better prevent spread through aerosolized particles. Avoid crowds and close contact with others and take advantage of the beautiful Arizona weather and countless walking trails throughout the valley.
  • According to the American Heart Association, CDC, and Mayo Clinic, physical activity can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s, several types of cancer, and some complications of pregnancy. It can also improve sleep, memory, bone health, balance and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Strength training or lifting weights can help strengthen your muscles and bones and prevent falls and osteoporosis. Some weight replacements that can be used around the house include canned goods, gallons of milk, laundry detergent or bottles of water. Also remember to assist your bone health by enjoying some of that Arizona sunlight which provides Vitamin D, and spend 10-20 minutes daily in sunlight (while wearing SPF 15 sunscreen or higher of course).
  • Be sure to contact your primary care provider for additional tips on how to get fit this new year and how to find the right exercise plan for you. Ask your provider about additional diet tips from our wonderful Nutrition team at your next visit as well.

Although 2020 has been an unprecedented year, there is hope on the horizon with the new vaccine. Continuing to wear masks, washing hands, and social distancing will ultimately be our best bet to a safer and healthier 2021. For more information about Arizona’s current COVID numbers, precautions, restrictions and more, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services Coronavirus page.

I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, and exciting new year!

6 Anxiety and Panic Coping Skills by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Now more than ever, our world as we know it has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. For many, coping with change is hard enough, let alone the emotions many may face such as fear and anxiety due changes in daily routines. Added stress from job loss and inability to cover expenses, illness, and/or loss of a loved due to COVID-19 may cause anxiety and panic. Learn 6 tips to help you cope with these emotions and check out some of our highly recommended apps that may help decrease your anxiety during this uncertain time.

Breathing slowly and deeply. Anxiety can cause you to breathe very quickly, which makes both the mental and physical symptoms of a panic attack or generalized anxiety even worse. When you start to feel panicky, be sure to take slow, deep breaths to soothe your mind and body. Be sure to breathe using “belly breathing” also known as diaphragmatic breathing.

Stop and think. When your thoughts start spinning out of control, simply tell yourself to stop. Organize your thoughts and decide what you need to do to get yourself calm again. This is a way to interrupt thoughts and refocus.

Think positively. Push negative thoughts out of your mind, and remind yourself that you are in control. Think about times when you’ve been able to manage situations successfully and reduce anxiety. Stay in the present moment.

Take a break. If you need to leave a situation, do so or tell someone you need to leave. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Allowing yourself to become more upset will not help if what you really need is to take a walk and blow off some steam. Allow yourself to have space as needed.

Relax your muscles. Anxiety causes your entire body to tense up, so make a conscious effort to relax each muscle from your toes all the way up to your neck and face. This will alleviate feeling tense.

Get physical. Exercise can combat stress and anxiety. It can also improve your overall health and immune system. Even a brisk walk can help.

Tips to remember:

  • Deep breaths.
  • Self-care.
  • Adequate sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Talk to yourself.
  • Acknowledge your feeling.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Lavender hot baths.
  • Cut back caffeine/nicotine/alcohol.
  • Stay present.
  • Good nutrition.
  • Muscle relaxation.
  • Slow down.
  • Picture your ‘safe place.’
  • HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired).
  • Close your eyes

Apps to help with anxiety:

  1. Calm.
  2. Worry Kit.
  3. Breathe2Relax.
  4. Panic Relief.
  5. MoodFit.
  6. Headspace.
  7. What’s Up.
  8. Happify.