Summer is a great time for rest and relaxation. Schools are out for break, and many people use this downtime to go on vacation with friends and family. But often this period of rest becomes a period of physical inactivity. Staying physically active is critical to maintaining health and wellness. This holds true for children and adults. For kids, physical activity is a great way to manage energy, build strong bones and muscles, improve the health of the heart and lungs, and control weight. For adults, physical activity helps control weight, strengthen bones, and lower blood pressure. Physical activity can even help manage chronic diseases like diabetes.1
While we’re on the topic, it’s important to note that there is a difference between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity refers to anything you do that gets your body moving! This includes walking, gardening, cooking, cleaning, playing, and dancing – just to name a few. Exercise refers to a set routine of physical activity. This is more of going to a gym to knock out some weightlifting sets or running laps around a track. While some people prefer to be active, others prefer to make a point of exercising. It all just depends on what fits into your lifestyle!
Summer months often mean a lifestyle change for many people. Students no longer have a strict class schedule to follow, and adults may have some vacation time. With all this extra time to relax, it’s easy to make a habit of sitting around. Studies show that only about one in five adults in the United States meet physical activity guidelines for their age group. For adults, that is 30 – 60 minutes of activity a day or 150-180 minutes a week. Kids typically need 60 minutes each day or more.2
So what can you do to help meet physical activity guidelines during the summer?
- Enroll kids in a summer camp program.
- Visit a local or state park. If you live close enough, you can walk to the park and avoid a parking fee!
- Join an outdoor recreation club! Kayaking, hiking, climbing, fishing, and other outdoor activities are really popular in the summer.
- If you can, plan a day or two where you walk or bike to work instead of driving. It’s a great way to incorporate activity into your day-to-day while also saving money on gas.
- Join a community pool. Swimming and playing in the water burns lots of calories while helping you cool off and beat the summer heat.
- Find an activity you can do indoors! Racquetball, dancing, pickle ball, or even workout videos are great ways to be active.
The most important thing is that you choose an activity that you know you can fit into your lifestyle and sustain. Don’t forget, you can log all of this activity on the Walk Georgia website, where our team is committed to helping you move more and live more!
Written by Jay Morris, former Walk Georgia intern and health promotion student, University of Georgia
- Luekper, R. V. (1999) How physically active are American children and what can we do about it?. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal Of The International Association For the Study of Obesity, 23 Suppl 2S12-S17.
- (2016). Physical Activity. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html