Summertime blues? Stay calm and get movin’
June 29, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - If summer finds you out of shape and looking for excuses to avoid swimming suits at all costs, the experts in Slippery Rock University's exercise science program have some sage advice: Stay calm and move, move, move.
The key to beating the summertime blues-bloat is making small lifestyle changes in movement and nutrition, professors say. Success doesn't require a radical diet or two hours a day at the gym.
People should follow simple steps to increase movement and try to regain the exuberance they had for activity as a child, said Carena Winters, SRU assistant professor exercise and rehabilitative sciences. That could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the office or delivering a piece of mail to a colleague in person instead of using the interoffice mail. And don't beat yourself up if you miss a day, she cautioned.
"Don't stress about it. The important thing is getting started; you have to move, move, move. The worst decision is to not do anything," Winters said.
Winters said she is a big advocate for making movement fun, like children do.
"If given the opportunity, children will find ways to move," she said. "If you observe children at play and going about their normal, daily routine, they are always moving. Try thinking like children."
For stressed-out adults dealing with aging bodies and fatigue, that can be easier said then done, Winters knows. "People think, 'I work all day. I don't want to workout at night,'" she said.
That's why the fun factor and matching personalities with movement opportunities is critical. For instance, a competitive person might benefit from using a pedometer to track his or her walking. A social person should surround himself or herself with people who like to be active Above all, don't be so serious.
"We used to play and dance for fun. As you get older, you lose that opportunity, maybe you lose that fun because of the responsibilities of your day," Winters said.
While summertime may be a season of overeating for many, warm weather increases opportunities for behavior modification.
"Get outside, take your shoes off and walk The Quad," she said. "Again, think like a child. You'll often see a child run over, pick something up and run somewhere else. We need to recapture that enthusiasm."
For many people, maintaining consistency is difficult because of self-loathing if they have a lazy day or binge eats.
"We're human. We make choices with respect to our health. Sometimes we don't make the healthiest choices. So what? The important thing is to get back on track and keep going," she said. "You don't have to be a superstar. Take the opportunity to stand up and move in the office. Just move, and it will help you control stress and leave you feeling energized."
Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Winters said even 10 minutes could provide cardiovascular benefits and combat high blood pressure and heart disease.
SRU, which embraces the international "Exercise is Medicine" initiative, has been recognized as a healthy place to work. The University, though a variety of areas, offers a 12-week Walk The Rock initiative, free zumba, yoga, meditation, a play day on the Quad and cycle aerobics programs.
Winters encouraged people to adopt U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Promotion's 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Forget diet trends and stick to tried-and-true nutrition tips from the experts.
People should eat a healthful diet -- one that focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health and prevent chronic disease. Focusing on eating more lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and fewer carbohydrates and processes food is a good place to start.
That doesn't mean people should give up if they eat ice cream or a piece of cake.
"There is a tendency to have fatalistic attitudes regarding nutrition and movement, which is why the 'stay calm' message is a good one," she noted. "Stay calm doesn't mean people should be cavalier about eating and movement, but that they should stay calm if they fall off the food or exercise wagon. Moving and eating right are lifestyle changes, and it takes time for those changes to become part of our daily lives."
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