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Get Moving Today! Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Posted by May Recreation Content Team on May 1, 2024

All months have their charm but at May Recreation we are naturally partial towards our namesake … the merry, merry month of May!

May is not only a chance to enjoy those blooming Texas wildflowers after April showers, and a springboard into summer months of fun, but May is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

“It is an initiative by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Since 1983, each President has proclaimed May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to promote the importance of physical activity, physical fitness, and sports participation,” explains the National Institute of Health’s Quarterly Wellness News.

First Step Toward Making Americans Healthier

Getting a move on in May to celebrate National Physical Fitness & Sports Month can help fight childhood obesity in the U.S. where it is a serious health problem with 1 in 5 children and adolescents affected. An inactive childhood can lead to obesity-related conditions as an adult such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that as of March 2020, the U.S. obesity prevalence was 41.9 percent, an increase from 30.5 percent in 20 years and that during that time severe obesity increased from 4.7 percent to 9.2 percent.

Exercising this month can be the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.

“Whether doing yard work, walking to the store, going on a run with a friend, or playing basketball in the park, exercise makes us healthier and stronger. Exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and more; and it increases quality of life,” wrote President Joe Biden in his proclamation on National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. “It boosts mental health, easing depression and anxiety while improving memory and sleep.  It helps young people build lasting friendships — teaching key lessons about discipline, teamwork, and winning and losing and preparing them to be leaders.”

Physical Activity Can Make You Feel Better Right Away!

Walking. Running. Dancing. Playing. Any type of physical activity can start making you feel better right away.

“Physical activity can make daily life better. So, get more active — and start feeling better right away!” says the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (OASH).

While many physical changes will present themselves in incremental steps, planning some physical activity such as a trip to the playground today can pay off with these immediate benefits:

  • Boosting your mood.

  • Sharpening your focus.

  • Reducing your stress.

  • Improving your sleep.

“There are many ways to be physically active. All kinds of active pastimes can help improve our physical and mental well-being, making physical activity one of the best ways to stay or get healthy,” says the National Institute of Health’s Quarterly Wellness News. “Some benefits can be achieved immediately – like improved blood pressure and reduced anxiety – while other benefits are the result of making physical activity a regular part of your routine.”

Making Your Move in May: Activity Guideline

The OASH fact sheet on physical activity says that even finding time to do five minutes of exercise will get you jump-started on a healthier lifestyle.

How much physical activity do adults need?

OASH recommends:

  • Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activity: Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of this type of activity which can include activities such as swimming, cycling, running, and brisk walking.

  • Muscle-Strengthening Activity: These are activities that make your muscles work harder than usual such as push-ups or lifting weights. Aim for at least two days a week of these activities.

If you are pressed for time, you can get the same benefits in half the time by doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activities for at least 75 minutes a week.

The difference between moderate-intensity aerobic activities and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities can be gleaned by using the “talk test”. When you are being active, just try talking:

  • If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily, it’s moderate-intensity activity.

  • If you can only say a few words before you must take a breath, it’s a vigorous-intensity activity.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Parents

So, how much physical activity do kids and teens need? OASH recommends the following:

  • 60 Minutes Every Day! Kids and teens should get at least 60 minutes every day of some sort of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

  • Get that Heart Beating! At least three days a week, encourage kids and teens to step it up to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity so that they are breathing fast, and their hearts are pounding.

  • Don’t Forget Muscle-Strengthening and Bone-Strengthening: As part of their daily 60 minutes, kids and teens also need to:
    • Muscle-Strengthening Activities: At least 3 days a week, anything that makes their muscles work harder counts, like climbing a rope ladder or swinging on the monkey bars at the playground.

    • Bone-Strengthening Activities: At least 3 days a week, any activity that puts pressure on the bones to get stronger such as running, jumping, and other weight-bearing activities.

The above guidelines are suggested for ages 6 to 17. For those younger than age 6, OASH says that younger kids love to be active naturally.

“Aim to keep them moving 3 hours a day – and more is better. Limit time when they are sitting around (like screen time),” says OASH.

Ideas to Get Your Kids Moving this Month

60 minutes a day of activity for kids can sound simple to health experts but for harried parents and caregivers, finding an hour each day for this important activity can be a challenge.

“Kids need 60 minutes of activity every day. That may sound like a lot for a school day, but it doesn’t have to happen all at once. And there are so many ways to squeeze in activity at different times of the day,” says OASH. “Could they get a little more active in the morning? What about after school? Remember, a little here and a little there — it all adds up throughout the day.”

Here are some ideas to get your kids moving in the month of May:

Before School: Start the day off right! There are lots of quick ways for kids to fit in a little activity before school:

  • Walking the dog or a neighbor’s dog.

  • Dancing around the living room.

  • Do morning stretches or yoga.

  • Walking or biking to school.

During School: If your kids can find ways to get active at school, that’s great! If not, focus on getting them more active outside of school hours:

  • If they get recess, encourage them to play active games and use playground equipment.

  • If they have daily PE class, ask them how much time they spent moving.

  • If there is no recess or PE available, try talking to teachers about working movement breaks into class time.

After School: When the school day ends, let the games begin! Encourage kids to use their after-school energy to get active with friends, siblings, teams, or on their own:

  • Walking or biking from school.

  • Signing up for an active after-school program or rec center class, like swimming or karate.

  • Playing a team sport like soccer or basketball.

  • Doing active things with friends like riding bikes, playing outdoors, or a trip to the local playground.

Evening: As the day winds down, try to find a few minutes to get active as a family. When you move with your kids, you get health benefits, too!

  • Take a walk before or after dinner.

  • When watching TV or doing screen time, turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks with push-ups, jumping jacks, or other exercises.

  • Play active games like catch, freeze tag, and hide-and-seek.

  • Start a family dance party.

At May Recreation we provide recreational design concepts that emphasize safety and fun and will get you and your family moving in May and throughout the rest of the year.

Topics: Play & Fitness Child Development

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