Pick up the Pace

When winter slows you down

January 2011 Feature By Shannon Stockwell

It may be colder outside and you may feel like hibernating, but if you're concerned about your health, becoming a couch potato is the last thing you will want to do during the cold weather months. There's no time like the present to work on losing a few pounds or just get into good cardiovascular shape. Whatever your personal reason, it's as important as ever to stay active during this time. There really are many choices for this no matter where you live.

It may seem true that there are less outdoor options, especially if you're in a snowy region and skiing and making snow angels just aren't your bag. Sometimes you just have to create your opportunity for activity whether you are onboard or at home. You can get as intense as you like with exercise, but for youth under 18 it is suggested by the President's Council on Physical Fitness to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week.

You can visit www.presidentschallenge.org, a non-governmental site that shares the fitness goals of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, and find suggested activities for all ages to participate in to become fit or increase fitness levels.

The Active Lifestyle program on its website can help you become committed to staying active. Exercise seems to be more fun if you're participating with others. With that in mind you can log on to its website and create a team and keep track of your points as a team. The rules of this program are very simple too. In addition to the ideas for activities, a personal activity log is available for you to track each step.

Here comes the reward part. In addition to feeling better, achieving a new level of fitness, and working toward a healthy lifestyle, you can earn awards. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) can be earned with regular activity just beyond your goal of either 30 minutes per day for adults or 60 minutes a day for youth under 18, at least 5 days a week for six weeks. You can also count steps with a pedometer to reach your goal.

If you're already pretty active, you can step it up by participating in the Presidential Champions program. This will help you to achieve an even higher level of fitness.

It is structured much like the Active Lifestyle program, but it's a little more intense.

It has a special program for performance athletes as well if you're that advanced with your physical activity. You'll earn points for every activity you complete as you work toward bronze, silver and gold awards.

The following suggestion would fall under the category of very light to moderate physical activity, and it probably seems odd to promote it as a form of exercise. There are those who aren't able to exercise quite as intensely as others for physical reasons but still want to participate on at least a low impact level. There are actually more video games aimed at encouraging physical activity being created all the time that can help with this.

If your kids have a Wii, you can get in on the action and bowl, golf, or even pick up the pace with a game such as Dance Dance Revolution. The whole family can play it too. Many games are manufactured to work with different game consoles too, so if you have a Play Station, you might find a version for that too. You won't find this activity listed on the President's Council website as video games aren't considered conducive to good physical health, but if you're at a place where you aren't able to participate at a higher exertion level, it seems a little exercise on a low impact level would be better than nothing at all.

The point is that even though the sun may have slowed down a little, you do have options to stay active during the colder months whether onboard or at home on land and help make the cold weather pass a little quicker.

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