The Answer to the Couch Potato Epidemic
When it comes to physical activity, the West is representing the best efforts in America to get moving. A recent study released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports inactivity across the US down to the county level, and the results mirror obesity rates. In the states that were most inactive, particularly in the South and parts of Appalachia, a large number of counties had obesity and physical inactivity rates that stood at over 30%, with Kentucky garnering 4 of the 5 least active counties in the US. So what gives? Why people are less active in some states rather than others is hard to determine, however, here are some pointers you can take from the most active cities that could help you get off the couch no matter where you live.
Find the Open Space
Many of the cities that are most active have an abundance of open space: parks and natural habitat areas where residents flock for a respite. Enjoying the great outdoors counts as physical activity, so take a stroll at a local park, go hiking, or visit your local arts district. Most museums, theaters, and zoos are located in clusters and allow residents to enjoy short walks between them. Make a day of it, and in addition to the culture inside the doors, your stroll could help you discover sculptures and murals that are usually unique to these areas.
Get Your Bike On
Denver, Colorado has an impressive 850 miles of paved bike trails and a bicycle-sharing program to boot. Even if your city doesn’t have a program, invest in a bike and take it for a spin regularly. Even if you do hit the gym’s stationary bike, getting your own-two-wheeler, could help you create the active lifestyle that will improve your health for years to come. The key to enjoying biking is finding a scenic route that feels more like recreation than exercise. So do your homework on the best places to bike. Get a bike rack, and go to town.
Get to the Water
Frozen or flowing, water features seem to keep people busy. Be it a nearby ski resort, a river, a lake, or the beach, water features are a great way to have fun and move your body. Boating, kayaking, or skiing can keep you off the couch. Even if you’ve never tried it, find beginner’s classes and hone your skills. It’s not always about burning a million calories. In fact, some water sports, with the exception of swimming, burn fewer calories than brisk walking, running or biking, but getting to and from these activities is sure to keep you on your feet.
Defy Weather-Related Inactivity
Even with the coldest average temperature of any major city at 45 degrees F, Minneapolis-St. Paul still stands at number seven on Time’s 15 Most Active Cities list, which was based on the CDC’s physical inactivity results. Finding a way to exercise safely during hot or cold weather is one lifestyle change that may be warranted to keep you away from the television. The obvious notes of dressing appropriately, using sunscreen, drinking lots of fluids, and limiting your time is tantamount to determining a specific type of activity in extreme weather, so get in gear and ask your doctor what may be right for you. Don’t let the weather keep you from the best preventative health care anyone can afford: exercise.
How do you stay active despite inactivity in your surroundings?