Shape Up America! Newsletter
Loving Physical Activity
by Craig Buschner, EdD
Here are some things people say about
physical activity: "I love to dance," "My
passion is kayaking," "I'm addicted to golf,"
"I can't wait to jog," "I feel soulful doing
yoga," "I enjoy playing basketball." All of
these comments reflect positive feelings
about the nature of physical activity that
grew out of their personal experiences.
Yet, recent studies show that nearly
one-fourth of U.S. adults engage in no
regular physical activity.1
many Americans have never experienced the
pleasures of physical activity nor the
empowerment associated with successful weight
management. Disturbingly, the percentage of
young people who are overweight has tripled
So, how do we get more youths and adults to
enjoy physical activity? How can teachers,
parents, coaches and community leaders
motivate people to initiate and sustain
physical activity? How do we rekindle and
leverage the natural instinct toward play and
build confidence in the ability to move and
Association for Sport and Physical
Education (NASPE) is a
professional membership organization of
physical educators that is doing its part to
address these important questions. NASPE
society in which all individuals are
physically educated to participate in and
appreciate lifelong physical activity.
Physical education plays a vital role in
promoting good health. It builds positive
experiences with physical activity, which
increases skills and confidence and reveals
the pleasures of physical activity. These
experiences contribute to lasting positive
feelings about being active that complement
the well-known physiological benefits of
physical activity such as lower blood
pressure, reduced risk of heart disease,
stronger bones and improved flexibility.
Evidence has demonstrated that children and
adults are more likely to engage in physical
activity when it is enjoyable.2,3
Despite the wealth of information extolling
the virtues of physical activity, many youth
and adults dislike exercise. For them,
exercise or "working out" connotes work,
discomfort, sweat, military training,
agonizing athletic practices and possibly
pain. For overweight youth, exercise can
sometimes be associated with humiliating
As physical educators, the mind-set we are
trained to inculcate is an intrinsic love of
physically active play and movement. We know
how to develop a positive learning
environment within an atmosphere of respect
and high expectations. Through a properly
designed physical education experience,
children are given a safe environment in
which to try, fail and try again, free of
criticism or harassment. For adults and
children alike, we actively discourage using
exercise as a form of punishment or
discipline — a practice that destroys a
relationship with physical activity.
Enjoyment of physical activity is related to
the development of competence and confidence.
It grows out of the experience of overcoming
challenges and persisting in the face of
difficulty. Enhanced self-efficacy — a
"I can do this" — is linked to long-term
physical activity adherence and commitment.
It's no secret that humans are more likely to
spend their discretionary time doing what
they are good at and enjoy. Thus, it's
central to believe in one's ability to be
successful, set realistic goals and practice
A well-rounded physical education experience
will encourage individuals to savor the
delights of physical activity by allowing
time for the educator to ask how they feel
before, during and after physical activity.
People deserve a chance to sense the mood
changes resulting from physical activity,
some of which can be subtle: reduced muscle
tension, relaxation, accomplishment and
sometimes euphoria ("runners high").
Finding joy in or a love for physical
activity can be a highly individual
experience. What might be enjoyable or fun
for some people may be unpleasant for others.
Some love the process of jogging but many
others do not. Some people like competition
while others find it limiting or
discouraging. And some like the exhilaration
of group activities while others prefer to go
A competent physical educator can identify
activities that suit the capabilities and
preferences of individuals of any age. This
will help the individuals grow and develop
the skills and confidence they need for a
sustained enjoyment of a physically active
lifestyle. In this way, physical education
lays the foundation for both health and well
Craig Buschner, EdD, is the president of
the National Association for Sport and
Physical Education (NASPE) and a professor of
kinesiology at California State University,
Physical Activity Recommendations
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
When he was 99, George Burns, the comedian,
said that if he had known he was going to
live so long, he would have taken better care
of himself. To help you take better care of
yourself, nothing is more important than
staying physically active. This month, we
will focus on the newly published activity
recommendations for older adults, in Part II
of this three-part series. Recommendations
for children will be covered in Part III.
Part II: Guidelines for Older Adults
As we mentioned in Part
I of this series, not enough
adults are meeting current recommendations
for physical activity and the proportion that
meets recommendations declines with age.
Meeting Physical Activity Recommendations, by
To change this picture, the American College
of Sports Medicine has collaborated with the
American Heart Association to establish
physical activity recommendations for adults
ages 65 years and older.1 These
recommendations can also be used for younger
adults ages 50-64 with chronic conditions or
functional limitations that affect movement
or physical activity, such as climbing stairs.
To promote good health, the recommendations
for older adults are:
- Start and get help if needed
that for older adults with certain physical
conditions or functional impairments, it may
be appropriate to aim for goals that are
lower (less demanding) than the physical
activity recommendations outlined below.
Consult a medical professional with any
concerns about how to safely implement these
- Aerobic Activity —
physical activity for 30 minutes on five days
a week OR vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
for 20 minutes on three days a week OR a
combination of the two approaches. Note that
this recommended level of physical activity
is to be ADDED TO customary activities of
daily living. For older adults who may
fatigue easily, 10 minute bouts — with
of rest in between — can be used to
accumulate 30 minutes of activity.
activity means a brisk walk or other
noticeably increases the heart rate. During
moderate-intensity activity, it should be
possible to talk or possibly to sing.
Vigorous-intensity activity includes jogging
or any other aerobic activity that causes
rapid breathing and a substantial increase in
heart rate. When activity is performed at
vigorous intensity, it should be difficult to
talk and not possible to sing.
- Muscle-Strengthening Activity
type of activity, also known as weight
training or resistance exercise, is extremely
important for seniors. It is recommended on
two nonconsecutive days a week. A
well-rounded weight training program consists
of 8-10 exercises selected to cover major
muscle groups in the upper and lower body.
Enough weight should be used to permit the
completion of 10-15 repetitions in good
before fatigue is reached.
Some seniors may
need to aim for more modest goals, especially
when beginning weight training, and may never
recommended goals. That is OK. Remember that
quality, or good form, is more important than
quantity. After weeks or months,
progressively more weight can be added, but
good form should be maintained at all times.
- Balance — The risk of falls
with age. Exercises to improve balance should
be part of a well-rounded exercise plan for
older adults and are especially important for
those at risk of falling.
- Flexibility — Our bodies
age. Exercises designed to maintain or
increase flexibility should be performed for
at least 10 minutes a day, two days a week.
It may be more comfortable to stretch the
muscles and tendons after a 10-minute warm
- Functional Health — Physical
makes the activities of daily living, such as
walking, dressing, cleaning and caring for
oneself, gardening and house chores easier to
- Exceeding Recommendations —
adults who feel they can exceed the minimum
recommendations outlined above should try it.
This will yield further fitness dividends,
build muscle and bone, and improve certain
diseases or conditions. In addition to
improved health and reduced disease risk, the
most important benefits are increased
mobility, productivity and independence.
- Exercise Plan — All
have a physical activity plan. A well-rounded
plan will incorporate each of the elements
discussed above and specify how, when and
where each activity will be performed. The
exercise plan should be re-evaluated
periodically or as abilities improve or
health status changes.
- Prevention of Weight Gain — More
activity than recommended above or activity
of a longer duration may be needed to prevent
unhealthy weight gain in older adults. Diet
may also need to be adjusted and other
factors that affect body weight may need to
be considered. Most of the studies of weight
gain prevention focus on prevention of regain
after significant weight loss. These studies
suggest that 60-90 minutes of
moderate-intensity activity a day may be
necessary for weight maintenance after weight
loss. But for prevention of weight gain in
the first place, more research is needed to
make authoritative recommendations,
especially for older adults.
"The Fat Cats," as Brenda and her e-mail
friend call themselves, show how teaming up
for support and encouragement can help make
losing weight a winning proposition.
In May of 2007, I entered the hospital with
an inner ear infection. At that time I
weighed in at 196 lbs. While there, I tried
to be mindful of the food I put in my mouth.
Of course I was in physical therapy, also.
I was in the hospital for a month, and after
I was released I continued my weight journey.
I lost about 20 lbs. over approximately a
An e-mail friend and I began a weight program
between ourselves on October 11, 2007. We are
"The Fat Cats." I personally keep our
weigh-in progress on my computer. We weigh-in
and send each other an e-mail of our weekly
If 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.
Recipe of the Month
Sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. Try this tasty, low fat recipe as a side dish or for dessert.
SWEET POTATO CUSTARD
Makes 6 servings, 1/2 cup each
- 1 cup sweet potato, cooked, mashed
- 1/2 cup banana (about 2 small),
- 1 cup evaporated skim milk
- 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 2 egg yolks (or 1/3 cup egg substitute),
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- As needed, nonstick cooking spray
- In medium bowl, stir together sweet
potato and banana.
Add milk, blending well.
- Add brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt,
- Spray 1-quart casserole with nonstick
Transfer sweet potato mixture to casserole dish.
- Combine raisins, sugar, and cinnamon.
Sprinkle over top of sweet potato mixture.
- Bake in preheated 325º F oven for 40-45
until knife inserted near center comes out
Nutritional analysis per serving: 160
calories, 2 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated
fat, 72 milligrams* cholesterol, 32 grams
carbohydrate, 5 grams protein, 2 grams
dietary fiber, 255 milligrams sodium
*If using egg substitute, cholesterol will be
Source: The Heart Truth for Women,
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD