Tag: ACSM

2018 Physical Activity Guidelines – How to Meet the Goals in Everyday Activities

The other day I heard a story about a woman who hated to exercise. She wanted nothing of it: going to the gym, sweating, walking on the treadmill. Boring. No way! She’d heard about the latest 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines, but had dismissed them as irrelevant to her life.

Recently, she stumbled onto an article that said the activities she was doing in everyday life counted as exercise and that moving more could actually make her feel better. “Cleaning the house, sweeping the porch, mowing the lawn, and walking my child to school are exercise? Really? I need to learn more!”

Off she went to search the internet. She discovered the Compendium of Physical Activities that listed MET values for hundreds of activities. METs? What are those? After learning that METs are a multiple of energy expended at rest (1 MET), the woman got a paper and pen and went to work. She listed all of her daily activities and how much time she did them each week. Then she separated the activities into light-, moderate-, and vigorous-intensity categories based on the MET values. Low and behold, she spent a lot of time in moderate activities and even some in vigorous activities. Amazing!

She wondered, how many minutes are ‘enough’? She remembered the 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines and went back to the internet. The guidelines recommended that she should “move more and sit less throughout the day.” Check! She did that.

The guidelines also recommended that she also “do at least 150 – 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activities (3.0-5.9 METs) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities (6.0 and higher METs), or a combination of the two intensities each week. Preferably the activities should be aerobic. And every minute counted.” Based on her list of activities and METs, she was close to meeting that goal too. She was on a roll!

The third guideline stopped her in her tracks. They recommended she “do at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all her major muscle groups.” Whoa. She didn’t do any muscle strengthening activities. She had no idea what were her major muscle groups.

Back to the internet for more information.

The woman learned that it’s important to work the major muscle groups: the chest, shoulders, back, biceps and triceps, legs and calves, and stomach. Oh. No way she worked these muscle groups at least two days a week, let alone one day a week.

To get help with where to start, the woman went to a nearby gym and worked with a trainer who showed her exercises to strengthen her muscles. She added these exercises to her schedule twice a week and, she liked it! She was getting stronger, her body was firming up and she liked how she felt during and after her workouts. She was sweating and loving it!

Before she knew it, the woman was looking for ways to get moving intentionally. She dusted off that old bicycle in the garage and took it for a spin. She bought a fitness tracker and took the long way to pick up her child at school. She even signed up for an exercise class to get more minutes of vigorous-intensity activities. Moving more had become a part of her life. Everything she was doing, even the bite-sized amounts of activity, counted toward her activity goals. She felt great, slept better, and had more energy.

The moral to this story is that if we move every day, we are doing positive things for our mental and physical health. The new 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines tell us how much activity we need on a regular basis to improve our health and reduce our risk of chronic diseases. So here’s to an active and healthy 2019 as we aim for every child, adult and senior to reach the goals set in the 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.

 

Author: Barbara E. Ainsworth

Anchorage Alaska Parks

Love parks? Anchorage, Alaska is the place for you!

Anchorage has more public access to park space per city acre than any other state in the United States, and its extremely variable climate presents the unique opportunity of hosting both winter and summer sports. Anchorage, the largest city in the state of Alaska, is surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and covered with forest and open fields. Recently, Anchorage was top of the “Parks” category in the 2018 American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index.

The Municipality of Anchorage, with 84.2 percent covered in parkland, easily leads the country for space designated to parks in a city. Anchorage also ranks first in the category of acres of parkland per 1,000 residents with over 223 parks, each averaging 4.7 acres in size. Up to 71% of Anchorage’s residents live within a ten-minute walk to one of its many parks. Most parks are available for use year-round, and the activities change along with the seasons. In the summer, temperatures reach as high as 90° F, averaging a comfortable 65° F. Soccer, football, disc golf and cycling are a common sight at local parks. Families spend time on the playgrounds and walk along Anchorage’s scenic trails. In the winter, however, temperatures can drop below -30° F, and Anchorage averages 74 inches of snow per year. Those conditions don’t stop the community from using their parks, but rather open up opportunities for cross country skiing on the freshly groomed 250 miles of trails, as well as downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the backcountry. Additionally, many of Anchorage’s outdoor parks and facilities are designed for use during both winter and summer. Basketball courts and lakes, for example, are often “hot-mopped” and converted to free outdoor skating rinks.

Kincaid Park Anchorage Alaska
1,500 acre Kincaid Park is one of the most popular parks in Anchorage, Alaska.

One of the most popular parks is the 1,500-acre Kincaid Park. It is well known for its sand dunes and access to the beach, and a goat-trail path along a breathtaking 300-foot bluff. The community has free access to soccer fields, a disc golf course, archery, fishing and wildlife viewing. Many community groups, such as the University of Alaska Anchorage Nordic Ski Team, take advantage of nearly 40 miles of world-class trails, all of which are groomed over in winter and used for roller skiing during the summer. The park has been a host for many community, high-school and college ski races, as well as U.S. National Championships and Olympic trials.

Volunteers are an integral part of maintaining and beautifying Anchorage parks and trails. Every year, volunteers contribute thousands of hours of service to the Parks and Recreation Department because the people of Anchorage value their outdoor space. In 2013, volunteers tallied over 125,000 hours of service to Anchorage parks. From general upkeep to specific jobs like grooming trails and prepping outdoor skating rinks, the volunteers are the reason that Alaska’s parks remain world-class.

With all of its magnificent parks, it’s obvious why outdoor enthusiasts are drawn from all over the world to visit Anchorage. Whether winter or summer, Anchorage is the perfect place to get moving outside and enjoy all that the 49th state has to offer without having to drive more than 20 miles in any direction.

Authors: Maryann Hoke, Junland Navarro, Yvonne Jeschke, Liam Lindsay and Darrion Gray of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department of the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. 

We’re Expanding! Fitness Index will now rank America’s 100 largest cities

The American Fitness Index is proud to announce that the 2018 rankings will be released on May 15th! This year’s rankings feature some exciting changes. 

We’re expanding!

For the first ten years of the Fitness Index, the rankings evaluated the 50 largest metro areas. This approach provided important and valuable general messages, but limited the ability to provide targeted assistance to city and community leaders that need specific data at the local level.

With the May 15th release of the 2018 rankings, the Fitness Index will expand to the 100 largest cities in the U.S. This approach distinguishes the largest suburbs from the central cities in the same metro areas. Cities like Plano, TX will now be scored and ranked separately from their Dallas-Fort Worth metro neighbors. The expanded rankings also provide a more inclusive approach by adding cities in states that weren’t represented previously. Welcome to the Fitness Index, Boise, ID!

Despite the shift from metro areas to cities, the methodology and data sources for the Fitness Index remains the same. Learn more about the science behind the Fitness Index here

New tools coming soon

Who doesn’t like fancy new tools? With this year’s rankings release the Fitness Index will also release an interactive city comparison feature. This will allow you to explore differences between cities by comparing to the top ranked city and up to three additional cities. How does NYC compare to LA or Chicago? Does Kansas City, MO rank higher than St. Louis, MO? Which Twin City ranks highest and why? Get curious and let your inner data scientist go to work. 

Reimagined reporting

Using top 10 lists, modern data visualizations, and inspiring stories from cities working to improve, the rankings report provides new insights and summarizes key information across all 100 cities.

All of these changes allow ACSM to provide better, local data to city leaders and targeted assistance to communities that are ready to make healthy changes.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share how you’ll use the 2018 Fitness Index rankings to make your community healthier and more active using #100fitcities.

100 Largest U.S. Cities

Anchorage

AK

Kansas City

MO

Chandler

AZ

St. Louis

MO

Gilbert

AZ

Charlotte

NC

Glendale

AZ

Durham

NC

Mesa

AZ

Greensboro

NC

Phoenix

AZ

Raleigh

NC

Scottsdale

AZ

Winston-Salem

NC

Tucson

AZ

Lincoln

NE

Anaheim

CA

Omaha

NE

Bakersfield

CA

Jersey City

NJ

Chula Vista

CA

Newark

NJ

Fremont

CA

Albuquerque

NM

Fresno

CA

Henderson

NV

Irvine

CA

Las Vegas

NV

Long Beach

CA

North Las Vegas

NV

Los Angeles

CA

Reno

NV

Oakland

CA

Buffalo

NY

Riverside

CA

New York

NY

Sacramento

CA

Cincinnati

OH

San Diego

CA

Cleveland

OH

San Francisco

CA

Columbus

OH

San Jose

CA

Toledo

OH

Santa Ana

CA

Oklahoma City

OK

Stockton

CA

Tulsa

OK

Aurora

CO

Portland

OR

Colorado Springs

CO

Philadelphia

PA

Denver

CO

Pittsburgh

PA

Washington

D.C.

Memphis

TN

Hialeah

FL

Nashville

TN

Jacksonville

FL

Arlington

TX

Miami

FL

Austin

TX

Orlando

FL

Corpus Christi

TX

St. Petersburg

FL

Dallas

TX

Tampa

FL

El Paso

TX

Atlanta

GA

Fort Worth

TX

Honolulu

HI

Garland

TX

Boise

ID

Houston

TX

Chicago

IL

Irving

TX

Fort Wayne

IN

Laredo

TX

Indianapolis

IN

Lubbock

TX

Wichita

KS

Plano

TX

Lexington

KY

San Antonio

TX

Louisville

KY

Arlington

VA

Baton Rouge

LA

Chesapeake

VA

New Orleans

LA

Norfolk

VA

Boston

MA

Richmond

VA

Baltimore

MD

Virginia Beach

VA

Detroit

MI

Seattle

WA

Minneapolis

MN

Madison

WI

St. Paul

MN

Milwaukee

WI

Physically active families: Creating healthy habits this fall

In many ways, Fall is a “new year” for American families. For those whose annual schedule revolves around the academic calendar, fall is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. In the spirit of back-to-school season, ACSM’s American Fitness Index hosted a Twitter chat with some of our subject matter expert members who offered advice to families looking to kick-off the school year with healthier habits.

Plan to eat for success

First, Tanya Halliday, Ph.D., R.D. chimed in on tips for eating seasonally, packing healthy lunches and feeding families under the most serious of time-crunches.

“Apples and pumpkin get a lot of action in the fall. Rightfully so—they are delicious, nutritious and versatile produce. But don’t overlook other fall produce like zucchini, eggplant, cantaloupe, pears and others that are in season in many parts of the U.S.”

Halliday also offered a Seasonal Produce Guide  for knowing which fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the year. It’s important to know what produce is the freshest when visiting your local farmers’ market or grocery store!

As far as packing healthy, well-rounded lunches for school and work? Planning ahead is key!

“Plan lunches for the week with your children,” Halliday suggests. “If they are involved in prepping and packing they are more likely to eat it!” Planning ahead also allows you to accurately pack a balanced meal, as opposed to throwing things in a bag during a rushed morning only to find out later that you’ve completely missed key nutrients.

Think about pre-portioning foods, like an individual bag of carrot sticks with a small container of hummus, to make mornings very grab-and-go. It’s also worth-while to invest in insulated lunch bags and ice packs that will keep food at a safe temperature and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

With full family schedules, mornings can be rushed and dinners are often on-the-go or scheduled at home with little time to prepare.

“Planning, prepping, bulk cooking and convenience items can help during the rushed days,” Halliday shared. “I am all about bulk cooking and taking advantage of the freezer for storage.”

Additionally, there are many make-ahead breakfast options like overnight oats and, when dinner is rushed, fast options like frozen vegetables in a steam bag can get meal prep done in a flash!

Encouraging active play

We all know that it’s easy to come home from work or school and lay down on the couch for some TV or internet surfing. Avery Faigenbaum, Ed.D., FACSM, shared his thoughts on how to keep moving and make fitness a family affair.

“Walk the dog, ride bikes, play ball or even bring out the hula hoops!” he said, emphasizing the importance of the whole family having fun while being active together. “Each week try to plan at least one activity together [as a family]—outdoor play, a pick-up game or a hike at a local park.”

But what about when the weather turns too cold or rainy to be outside? “Move the furniture aside and have dance parties,” Faigenbaum suggested. “Let each family member pick a song and get dancing.” Balloon volleyball and indoor hopscotch are other easy ways to get moving, even if you’re in a confined indoor space.

Our favorite suggestion? “Create an indoor zoo full of animal movements!” Faigenbaum added. “Think crocodile planks, bunny hops, frog squats and mountain goat climbers.” To learn more about Faigenbaum’s approach to keeping kids active and healthy, check out his recent article is ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.

These are all great ideas, but how do you know if your family is getting enough physical activity to be healthy? “Kids need to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day,” Faigenbaum says. “And it does not need to be 60 consecutive minutes.” For adults, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, done in at least 10-minute intervals. It is also recommended to complete resistance training of each major muscle group 2-3 times per week.

The key takeaway for healthy active families is fun. As long as everyone is enjoying the activity, they will keep moving!

Seeking out community resources

Many communities across America have facilities and other resources to help your family stay active year-round. Dr. Walt Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM and 61st President of the American College of Sports Medicine, reminded families that city parks and recreation centers are great options if your outdoor space is limited or the weather restricts your activities. Your local Parks & Recreation Department should have a full list of available facilities on their website.

Do you think that your local community could improve its offering of resources for health and wellness? Download the American Fitness Index®’s Community Action Guide to learn how you can make a difference in the health of your own community!

Infographic: 2017 ACSM American Fitness Index

According to the 2017 ACSM American Fitness Index, the top 10 fittest cities in the U.S. are:

  1. Minneapolis, MN
  2. Washington, DC
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Salt Lake City, UT
  10. San Diego, CA

Share this infographic and the Fitness Index with your local leaders to start a conversation on making your city a healthier place for all residents.

Today Show Looks to ACSM for America’s Healthiest City

To help kick off 2014, The Today Show looked at where in America you should go if you want to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”.

In their search for evaluating America’s healthiest cities, the show’s producers examined a number sources and ultimately settled on the ACSM American Fitness Index®. For the past three years Minneapolis/St. Paul has earned the highest ranking.

ACSM and the Fitness Index Advisory Board are honored to be considered as the best measure of a “healthiest” city. It’s a testament to the research and planning that went into creating the Fitness Index and the work to update the rankings each year since 2008.

For the segment on The Today Show, journalist Craig Melvin spoke with runners and bikers using the city’s expansive trails and paths, highlighted Minneapolis’ robust park and recreation system, and featured a healthy food program called Urban Roots.

The segment also included a portion of an interview with Fitness Index Advisory Board Chair Dr. Walt Thompson.

Check out the segment and read the story on The Today Show website. The 2014 report will be released in May ahead of the ACSM Annual Meeting.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Spotlight on Minneapolis/St. Paul

Earlier this year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released the annual ACSM American Fitness Index® () data report. This report evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States.

For the first time, the metropolitan statistical area of Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington edged out previous leader Washington, D.C. for the top spot with a score of 77.2 (out of 100 possible points). The metro area ranked 3rd with a score of 71.7 in 2010.

Minneapolis-St. Paul took the lead thanks to greater improvements in healthy behavior measures and a reduction in the percentage of smokers. The Twin Cities ranked 2nd on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care. The area ranked 2nd on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Several factors contributed to the Twin Cities’ top ranking. The area has the highest percentage of residents who report getting physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days (85.9%) and relatively low smoking rate (15.3%). In the Twin Cities, the percentage of residents with chronic health concerns such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes is moderate-to-low. Another factor is that 92.9% of residents have health insurance.

While the area reduced park-related expenditures this year ($203 per capita), its percentage of parkland is still above average (16.7%), as is the percentage of recreational facilities (other than swimming pools). Farmers markets in the area also increased this year, indicating a trend in healthier eating.

In a future blog post, we’ll look at some of the programs, attractions and projects that are working to keep the Twin Cities in the top spot. For a complete list of the Twin Cities’ strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the website and download the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area report.

WellPoint Foundation Grant Aims to Improve Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) received a $171,880 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present the 2011 ACSM American Fitness Index () data report and establish pilot programs to improve health. Now, by translating key data from the report, ACSM will provide technical assistance to low-ranking metro areas to help them improve health and fitness in their communities.

Read more

From the Field with Dr. Roseann Lyle

In this edition of From the Field, Advisory Board Member Roseann Lyle, PhD, FACSM, comments on what makes the ACSM American Fitness Index data report a unique measure of health and community fitness.

Dr. Lyle emphasizes the importance for communities to create an environment that makes it easier for people to make healthy choices. She also notes the interdependence of public transportation, healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and policies that discourage smoking on community health.

Lyle also shares information about an initiative in her community, Healthy Active Tippecanoe, aimed at improving the health and quality of life for people living in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.

Lyle is a professor of public health at the Purdue University Department of Health and Kinesiology. She serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity and is a member of the Active Aging Partnership, which directs ongoing initiatives of the Blueprint for Increasing Activity among Adults over 50.

From the Field with Sarah Pedersen

Sarah Pedersen talks about what makes Boston a physically active city in this episode of From the Field. Boston ranked 2nd in the 2010 ACSM American Fitness Index data report.

Sarah also talks about some programs in near Tufts University aimed at improving health and community fitness. Sarah is a PhD student in International Nutrition at Cornell University.