Physical Activity – How to Start

Physical Activity – How to Start
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted June 28, 2016

Background

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released in 2008, are based on scientific evidence that regular physical activity can improve the health and quality of life of Americans of all ages.

Yet, according to Healthy People 2020, which is the nation’s 10-year goals and objectives agenda for health promotion and disease prevention, more than 80 percent of adults do not meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. And, more than 80 percent of adolescents lack aerobic physical activity to meet the Guidelines for youth.

Understanding Physical Activity

It is important to understand the factors that determine whether you become physically active. According to Healthy People 2020, factors that are positively associated with physical activity among all age groups – that is, adults, adolescents, and children, include:

  • Belief in ability to be active (self-efficacy)
  • Social support from family and friends

And, among youth ages 13 to 18 and children ages 4 to 12, another factor that stands out as positively associated with physical activity is Gender (boys).

These factors suggest that if you believe in your ability to be active, and if your family and friends support your efforts to be active, and if you are a boy, you are more likely to be active than if one of these factors is not so.

You may wish to see additional factors at Healthy People 2020. Physical Activity.

How can you, as parents and as a community, strengthen your belief and your child’s belief in the ability to be active (self-efficacy)?

How can you provide social support for your spouse and your family members, so that they build physical activity into their daily routine?

What can you do to encourage girls, as well as  boys, to increase their physical activity for enjoyment and a healthy lifestyle?

Why Physical Activity is Important

Physical activity can lower the risk of many health threats, including the following illnesses and risk factors:

  • Breast and colon cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Following are just a few ways in which physical activity can promote health:

  • Decrease levels of body fat
  • Encourage social interactions
  • Improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness
  • Reduce symptoms of depression
  • Strengthen bones

Believe in Your Ability to Be Active (Self-Efficacy)

  • Make a decision that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level. Then, try it.
  • Plan to be active at times in the day or week when you feel you have a lot of energy.
  • To start, select activities that require no new skills, such as climbing stairs or walking.
  • Identify low-cost resources, such as  community parks and recreation programs

Ask for Social Support from Your Family and Friends

  • Ask family and friends to support your efforts.
  • Ask family and friends to be active with you in activities, such as dancing or jumping rope.
  • Play with your children at a game of tag, or ask them to join you for an exercise video at a public library.
  • Join a group, such as the YMCA, or start a walking group at your church or neighborhood.

Talk with Your Daughters about Fun Physical Activities

  • Suggest that your daughter think of a song that makes her feel happy and then dance to the song.
  • If your daughter likes to ride her bike with friends, encourage her and her friends to ride to a community park and take healthy foods for a picnic.
  • Teach your daughter how to build physical activity into her daily life. For example, walking with friends at the mall is an activity that strengthens bones and friendships.
  • Help your daughter to avoid excuses. For example, if your daughter worries about not looking good when she is active, encourage her to start physical activity in personal space, such as dancing in her room, or marching in place.
  • Encourage your daughters with smiles and hugs. Talk with your daughters about the importance of simply doing their best. There is no such thing as perfect.

Spend Time with Your Family

Remember to give time to your daughters, as well as to your sons. And, whenever possible, find physical activities that your family can do together, such as swimming or walking. You will be helping to build flexible bodies, strong minds, and emotional bonds that last a lifetime.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or to treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity.
Summary Note: The CDC Index page for Physical Activity. Includes links to Physical Activity Basics, Resources and Publications, Worksite Physical Activity, Data and Statistics, Community Strategies, and Walking.
(Accessed 11 June 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity. Making Physical Activity a Part of a Child’s Life
Summary Note: Suggestions on how to keep your child active. Includes sample schedules for a seven-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-old girl.
(Accessed 20 June 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Schools. Physical Activity Facts.
Summary Note: Includes Percentage of High School Students Participating in Physical Activity and Physical Education, by Sex, 2013. Links to Key Resources.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Physical Activity in U.S. Youth Aged 12-15 Years, 2012.
Summary Note: Key findings from the combined National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey, 2012.
(Accessed 27 June 2016).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity.
Summary Note: Suggestions for Overcoming Physical Activity Barriers, including physiological, behavioral, and psychological factors.
(Accessed 25 June 2016)

Health dot Gov. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Summary Note: Science-based guidance to help Americans aged six and older to maintain or improve their health through regular activity. Downloadable PDF format document.
(Accessed 11 June 2016)

Healthy People dot Gov.
Summary Note: Home page of Healthy People dot Gov. Includes data on economic, environmental, personal, and social factors that determine health behavior.

Healthy People dot Gov. Healthy People 2020. Physical Activity.
Summary Note: Overview of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released in 2008. Includes Factors Positively Associated with Physical Activity for Adults, for Adolescents, and for Children. Among other factors, includes Belief in Ability to Be Active (self-efficacy), Support from Family and Friends, and Gender (boys).
(Accessed 11 June 2016)

Healthy People dot Gov. Social Determinants.
Summary Note: Discuses Social Determinants as a Leading Health Topic. Recognizes the roles of home, community, neighborhood, school, and workplace in improving health.
(Accessed 27 June 2016)

Let’s Move dot Gov. Increase Physical Activity Opportunities.
Summary Note: Suggestions to community leaders, schools, and health care providers, on how to increase physical activity opportunities. Part of the Let’s Move initiative launched February 09, 2010 by First Lady Michelle Obama, to help solve the challenge of childhood obesity.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

Let’s Move dot Gov. Parents Take Action. Five Simple Steps to Success.
Summary Note: Suggests five steps that parents and caregivers can take to help create a healthy environment at home by planning weekly menus, sharing family time, and organizing a school health team.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). Background
Summary Note: Discusses We Can! The science-based, national educational program launched June 01, 2005, aims to help children stay at a healthy weight through community action and partnership development. We Can! is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). Everyday Ideas to Move More.
Summary Note: Everyday ideas to help your family move more each day, while having fun together. Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document, titled, Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

Nemours Foundation. Teens Health. Easy Exercises for Teens.
Summary Note: Instructions and photos demonstrate three simple strength-building exercises that can be done at home. Includes links to related topics for teens.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

Nemours Foundation. Teens Health. Motivation and the Power of Not Giving Up.
Summary Note: Brief paragraphs discuss Knowing Your Goal, Being Specific, Getting Motivated, and Not Giving Up.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

Nemours Foundation. Teens Health. Yoga.
Summary Note: Discusses different types of Yoga. Links to related topics.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women’s Health. GirlsHealth dot Gov. Fitness.
Summary Note: Links and video with workout tips for girls. Includes How to Make a Fitness Plan Work for You, and What Girls are Doing to Stay Fit and Have Fun.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women’s Health. GirlsHealth dot Gov. Types of Physical Activity.
Summary Note: Lists three types of physical activity: Aerobic activity, Muscle-strengthening activity, and Bone-strengthening activity. Describes how and why each activity is important for healthy body and mind. Links to stretches for specific parts of your body.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Definitions of Health Terms: Fitness.
Summary Note: Fitness terms to help you to understand how to make the most of your physical activity routine.
(Accessed 21 June 2016)

U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Exercise for Children.
Summary Note: MedlinePlus topic page for Exercise for Children. Extensive information resources from federal government departments and nonprofit organizations. Sections are categorized by Children, Girls, and Teenagers. Includes links to journal articles.
(Accessed 11 June 2016)

Child Nutrition

Child Nutrition
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Information Specialist

Posted January 26, 2016

Introduction

Sometimes, you may think of Nutrition Science as a field that only scientists are qualified to study. Instead, Nutrition Science includes behaviors and social factors related to your own food choices.

The foods you eat provide energy (calories) and nutrients, such as carbohydrate, fat, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Eating foods in the right amounts gives your body energy to perform daily activities, helps you to maintain a healthy body weight, and can lower your risk for certain diseases, such as diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Child nutrition is especially important, because a healthy diet helps children to grow, to learn, and to prevent obesity as they grow into adulthood.

Choose the Right Foods in the Right Amounts for Your Children

In 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is the agency in charge of nutrition, introduced the Food Guide Pyramid to American consumers. The Food Guide Pyramid had six vertical stripes to represent five food groups plus oils.

In 2011, a colorful plate, called, MyPlate, replaced the Food Guide Pyramid as the symbol for healthy eating. MyPlate has four sections (fruit, grains, protein, and vegetables), plus a side order of dairy. MyPlate looks like a place setting, is easy to use, and is available in 20 languages.

MyPlate is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published every five years for public health professionals. Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects current knowledge of nutrition science. The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines is available exclusively on Health dot Gov.

Teach Your Children the Ingredients of a Nutritious Diet

According to the Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate, here is what you need to do to give your children a nutritious diet:

  • Make half of what is on your child’s plate fruits and vegetables.
  • For protein, choose lean beef, chicken or turkey, fish, eggs, nuts and food seeds, beans, peas, lentils, or tofu.
  • For grains, select whole-grain products, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-wheat cereals, and brown rice, because they are high in food fiber.
  • Instead of frying foods, grill or steam them.
  • Limit junk food, which is food with high energy density and low nutrient density.
  • Offer water, milk, or fruit juice, instead of fruit drinks or sodas.

Be a Healthy Role Model for Your Children

Show your children that you love them. Consider following these U.S. Department of Agriculture tips:

  • Reward with attention, not food. Comfort with hugs and talks. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards, so that your child does not think that dessert foods are better than other foods.
  • Show by example. Let your children see that you like to munch on raw vegetables, such as baby carrots, celery, and cauliflower.
  • Go food shopping together, and let your children make healthy food choices.
  • Focus on each other at the table. Talk about fun and happy things at mealtime. Turn off the TV and computer games.
  • Listen to your child. If your child says that she or he is hungry between meals, offer a healthy snack.

For more information, go to ChooseMyPlate dot Gov.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other health care provider.

Selected Information Resources

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Breakfast: the Key to Learning.
Summary Note: Lists seven suggestions for how to encourage children to eat breakfast. Based on study results showing that children who eat breakfast concentrate better in the classroom and perform better on math, reading and standardized tests.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Healthy Lifestyle. Children’s Health.
Summary Note: Nutrition basics for children at various ages. Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 to 2020.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Feeding Your Child Athlete.
Summary Note: Nutritional needs, diet, importance of drinking water, meal and snack suggestions for child athletes. Includes link to audio version of text.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Food Guide Pyramid Becomes a Plate. Summary Note: Explains the U.S. Department of Agriculture change from the Food Guide Pyramid symbol, to the MyPlate symbol, as the model for healthy eating in the United States. Discusses importance of the five food groups: dairy, fruit, grains, protein, and vegetables.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. MyPlate Food Guide.
Summary Note: For audience of teens, describes how the U.S. Department of Agriculture symbol, MyPlate, works. Shows color graphic of MyPlate food divisions. Links to audio version of text. Also in Spanish.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Why Drinking Water is the Way to Go. Summary Note: For audience of kids, discusses why water is important to health. Links to audio version of text. Also in Spanish.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Choose MyPlate dot Gov.
Summary Note: MyPlate in 20 languages.
(Accessed 24 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Choose My Plate dot Gov. Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series. Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
Summary Note: Ten tips to help children develop healthy eating habits for life. Encourages parent and child talk, family food shopping, and physical activities.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. MyPlate/MiPlato
Summary Note: Defines MyPlate as part of a larger communication effort based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
(Accessed 12 January 2016).

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Food Guide Pyramid.
Summary Note: Historical references to the Food Guide Pyramid.
(Accessed 12 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Programs. School Meals
Summary Note: Links to child nutrition programs and resources.
(Accessed 21 January 2016).

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Service. School Meal Contacts
Summary Note: Search websites by state for address and phone number of School Meal Contacts.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Service. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Summary Note: Frequently Asked Questions about WIC. Includes section with address and phone number of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Public Information Staff.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). School Nutrition Success Stories
Summary Note: Examples of schools and school districts in various states that have implemented successful school nutrition approaches to improve the nutritional quality of foods sold outside of Federal meal programs.
(Accessed 25 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nutrition and the Health of Young People
Summary Note: Four-page document with list of brief factual statements on nutrition and the health of young people. Subsections include benefits of healthy eating and consequences of a poor diet. Resources section includes school nutrition standards. Statements are supported by footnotes to peer-reviewed literature.
(Accessed 22 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Division of Adolescent and School Health.
Implementing Strong Nutrition Standards for Schools: Financial Implications Summary Note: Report provides evidence that schools can have strong nutrition standards while maintaining financial stability.
(Accessed 25 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). Better Nutrition Every Day. How to Make Healthier Food Choices. NIH News in Health September 2015.
Summary Note: Describes how parents can be good role models for their children, from the day their child is born. Gives examples of how often to eat certain foods.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Time to Talk: Five Things to Know about Dietary Supplements and Children
Summary Note: Lists five things to know when considering dietary supplements for children. Cautions that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.”
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Child Nutrition
Summary Note: Entry to extensive list of online information resources organized under sections, such as, Start Here, Latest News, Specific Conditions, Children, and Teenagers. Links to other languages.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Definitions of Health Terms: Nutrition
Summary Note: Definitions are in plain language.
(Accessed 11 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Office on Women’s Health. GirlsHealth dot Gov. Nutrition.
Summary Note: Girls can “read what girls like you say about eating healthy.” Links to healthy weight goals, eating healthy at restaurants, and what to do if you are a vegetarian. Sidebar with links to Girls Health Glossary, with definitions of nutrition terms.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Eighth Edition. December 2015.
Summary Note: Official website and entry to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 to 2020. Discusses the purpose, process, and evolution of the Dietary Guidelines. Includes contact information.
(Accessed 23 January 2016)