Shape Up America! Newsletter
Green and Lean: Physical Activity (Second in a series)
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
This series of articles is intended to
illustrate how you can shrink your carbon
footprint and your
waist circumference at the same time. The
first article focused on food; this
article discusses physical activity.
If extraterrestrials landed on our planet,
they would conclude that the automobile is
the dominant form of life. So much of daily
living involves a car. Many of us commute to
work and travel to shopping and recreational
opportunities in our cars. For some, it is a
second dining room. Yet if we could get out
of our cars more often, we would burn more
calories and help make weight control a
little easier. But our communities are often
designed without sidewalks or bike paths,
making many of our neighborhoods unsafe for
travel by bicycle or on foot.
According to a recent study,1
Europeans walk an average of 382 kilometers
(237 miles) per person each year. Europeans
also bike more, racking up 5 times more miles
on bicycles as compared to Americans. These
data correspond to the much lower rates of
obesity in many European countries such as
Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands than
in America. They also reflect the fact that
many European communities are better designed
to promote walking and biking than
communities in the U.S. A future article will
discuss community design in greater detail.
Here are some ideas to get you out of your
car and onto your feet (or a bicycle) to help
you trim your weight and reduce carbon
emissions at the same time:
The most important way in which urban
dwellers can save money and reduce their
carbon footprint is by building and
supporting non-automotive transport —
buses, subways, trolleys, etc. — that
move large groups of people using less energy per
person. Take advantage of mass transit
whenever possible, but get off a few blocks
ahead of your stop so that you can get some
exercise and burn some calories. Develop a
mind set in which you are constantly seeking
opportunities to move more. Take the stairs
instead of the escalator. In a high-rise
office building, if stairwells are safe, take
the elevator part way up and walk a few
flights to your office. Take the stairs down
on a routine basis. If your workplace has a
casual dress code, plan to dress comfortably
so you can walk to or from work at least once
Organize your co-workers and as a group, ask
your employer to establish programs and build
facilities that will encourage mass transit
and non-automotive transit for commutation,
as well as promote exercise in the workplace.
Many employers have found that building
walking paths, installing bike racks and
exercise rooms with showers can boost morale
and worker productivity. As a provider of
jobs, your employer can be an important
source of political influence in your
community when it comes to planning and zoning.
When you are on your own time, think about
ways to consolidate errands and shopping so
that you make fewer trips by car, and
wherever possible, walk or bike instead.
Invest in a shopping cart to make it easier
to transport groceries. Put baskets on your
bicycle for toting your briefcase or groceries.
For fun and relaxation, plan recreational
outings to local parks that you can access
using mass transit or by bicycle or on foot.
If you must use a car, plan to go in groups
so that the energy costs per person are
Investigate community programs and find new
friends that share your appreciation for
conserving energy and pursuing a physically
active lifestyle. Make regular plans to get
together to hike, bike, swim or cross-country
ski. Explore and discover new activities
together. Discuss ways to help each other
shop and run errands so that car usage is
If you have school-aged children and the
school is too far to walk or bike, try to
organize a car pool with four other parents
so you only have to drive once a week and the
car is as full as possible. If walking or
biking is possible, but you are concerned
about traffic, consider forming a parent
group so that once a week, a parent
accompanies a group of children to school.
We hope these ideas will inspire you to get
out of the car and get moving. Please contact
America! with more ideas that we can
share with our readers.
Barbara J. Moore, PhD, is President and
CEO of Shape Up America!
Look To Community for Physical Activity
by JoAnne Owens-Nauslar, EdD
Today's challenging economic climate makes it
more difficult to find the time or money to
include physical activity in our daily
regimen. Health club memberships might be the
first item to drop from your family budget,
and a second job or increasing work hours to
make ends meet leaves little time to fit
physical activity into your already lengthy day.
But physical activity doesn't have to cost a
lot of money, and there are many factors in
places where we live that afford the
opportunity to network and connect in efforts
to promote physical activity. One of the best
ways to get community members to "move to
improve" is to examine some of the major
ingredients of existing successful activity
initiatives. These are some of the common
denominators for programs that have
The Leadership Factor: Find a great
program with a knowledgeable leader who
mobilizes the community. One person, with a
vision and passion, can make a difference.
Connectedness: Join a club or a
When you are part of a group, your chances
for continual involvement increase. Exercise
can cue up brain neurons for learning, and
the social interaction can help the
conversation and concepts to lock in.
Activity buddies: Find yourself a
training partner. For some, exercise can be
stressful. Increase your chances of
maintaining a physical activity regimen by
having two or more activity buddies. The
conversation stimulated will help the time
Media Coverage: Become part of a
collective event in your community. A great
human interest story can help increase the
number of participants. Knowing who to
contact, what is expected, and why someone
will benefit from participation should be
clearly defined in the publicity.
The Challenge: Take part in
new. Capitalize on the competitive element
that most of us have. Find another community
or group of similar size or interest, and let
the "physical activity challenge" begin.
The Fun Factor: A best dressed pet
contest can always be capped off with a walk
in the park to showcase the pooch fashions.
The Thank You Factor: Organizers,
sponsors and workers all need to know they
are valued and appreciated.
These programs have key ingredients for
sustainability and community involvement.
Check them out and add your initiative to the
The National Leagues of Cities sponsors
Mayors' Action Challenge for Children and
Families. Talk with your mayor, send the link
to the program, and encourage your mayor to
mobilize your community for physical activity.
on the Move challenges you,
your family and your community to learn more
about the new National Physical Activity
Guidelines, and to take small steps to adopt
a healthier lifestyle.
Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults
provides a guide for how you can fit physical
activity into your life—your way.
Local community hospitals offer classes
and lectures promoting healthy lifestyle
changes. Check your local events pages for a
wide variety of educational classes meeting
your unique health needs and interests.
The American Heart Association My
initiative provides free start kits which
include plans for initiating and maintaining
movement programs, including a walking
program with a tracking feature.
Congress of State Games
involves over 40 states and up to 500,000
participants annually in both athletic and
Up America is a program
designed to impact individual behavior and
the culture of work sites and communities
through a team approach.
Examples of community initiatives are as
creative as the leader who is trying to
mobilize the community. Some ideas include:
ETC. Gatherings — Exercise, Talk,
Events, which combine meaningful movement
with conversation and coupon trading. A one
hour gathering could net you 20 minutes of
movement, 20 minutes of relaxation and
conversation, and 20 minutes for exploring
Schools, community-based organizations,
and faith-based groups are promoting the fun
aspects of physical activity by featuring
movement activities by the month. For
Classic; February—Heart Hustle;
March—March Madness; April—Spring
Fling; May—Move It-Move It;
June—June Jam; July—Firecracker
Classic; August—Back to School Classic;
September—Labor of Love;
December—Holiday Hustle. Be sure to
secure a safe place to host the event.
Any of these events can be as simple as
featuring all types of physical activity to
combining food fests, speakers, and prizes.
City, county, and state health departments,
hospital marketing departments, corporate
wellness initiatives, and non-profit
organizations are fabulous sources for ideas,
information, and resources. It's time to get
everyone in America moving!
JoAnne Owens-Nauslar, Ed.D, FASHA, FNAS is
Director of Corporate/Community Development
at GeoFitness, Inc. in Orlando, FL.
Yoly became a motivator, personal trainer
and a lifestyle-change role model. Here's her
After having 3 kids and becoming a stay at
home mom, I had started to gain some weight.
After my son (who was 4 then) took a picture
of me in a pair of shorts, I realized how fat
I had allowed myself to become. I was mad at
myself! There were no excuses because I had
never been overweight. I decided I needed to
find an activity I enjoyed. I had played
basketball in high school but remembered how
much I loved tennis but never got a chance to
learn the game. I joined a tennis clinic with
some of my friends at my local
YMCA. It was then that I realized how out of
shape I had become! Read
Shape Up America! wants to hear about
you would like to share your personal
success story and be an inspiration to others
who desire to lose weight, simply use our story
submission system on the SUA Web site.
Share your recipes with others
Do you have an original, healthy recipe
that you would like to share with other
visitors to Shape Up America! We are especially
interested in recipes for adults or children
that feature fruits, vegetable, whole grains,
low fat dairy or lean protein. If you would
like to suggest an original recipe for
possible inclusion in the Shape Up America!
newsletter or on our website, go to our
We appreciate your interest!
Menus for Weight Loss and Healthy Eating
Shape Up America! offers these simple,
calorie and 2000
calorie menus to help
you eat healthfully while controlling your
Recipe of the Month
This delicious vegetable stew can be served alone, as a side dish over brown rice, cubed potatoes or pasta, or mixed with cooked diced chicken for a hearty meal.
Makes 4 servings
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, peeled and chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed,
cut into 1/4" dice
1 green pepper, stem and seeds
removed, cut into 1/4" dice
1 small eggplant, stem removed, with
skin, cut into 1/4" dice
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4" dice
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dry
Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a nonstick
skillet over high heat. Add onions, sauté
until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes
(lower heat if necessary to ensure that the
onions cook evenly without browning). Add
garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Remove from pan and
Add red and green pepper and sauté
until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Remove from skillet and add to onion/garlic
mixture. Place pan back on heat and when hot,
add the other Tbsp. of oil. Add eggplant and
sauté until lightly colored, about 5 minutes.
Remove from pan and repeat with the zucchini.
Return all vegetables to pan, stir in
the tomato paste and cook, over low heat,
until all vegetables are tender, and most of
the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add thyme.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 130
calories, 7 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated
fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein,
6 grams dietary fiber, 115 milligrams sodium.
Source: Shape Up
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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD