The warmer temperatures and sunshine last week were a welcome relief after several weeks of real winter weather! And, the calendar says it's less than a month until spring will officially arrive.
Warmer weather means it will be more pleasant to be outdoors. Cleaning up flower beds, planting gardens, washing the car and taking part in outdoor sports and other activities will give us all incentives to enjoy the outdoors and be physically active.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released new estimates of physical inactivity across the United States. It shows that people in Appalachia and the South are the least likely to be physically active in their leisure time. In many counties in those regions, more than 29 percent of adults reported getting no physical activity or exercise other than at their regular job.
CDC previously released maps with estimated levels of diabetes and obesity for all U.S. counties. Combining all three factors produces a map that shows the highest levels of diagnosed diabetes, leisure-time physical inactivity and obesity in the South and parts of Appalachia.
Looking at Kansas, Bourbon County has 27 percent of adults who are physically inactive. Only 14 of the 105 counties have a higher inactivity rate than our county. The only county with less than 20 percent inactivity is Johnson County with only 17.1 percent of adults inactive. To view the CDC maps go to www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics.
Being physically active is important in living a longer, healthier, happier life. The list of benefits is lengthy.
* Improves self-esteem and feelings of well-being.
* Relieves stress.
* Helps build and maintain bones, muscles and joints.
* Builds endurance and muscle strength.
* Enhances flexibility and posture.
* Helps manage weight.
* Lowers risk of heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.
* Helps control blood pressure.
* Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less.
At a minimum, 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days, or preferably every day, is recommended. Increasing the intensity or the amount of time of activity can have additional health benefits and may be needed to control body weight.
Short periods of activity -- at least 10 minutes at a time -- will provide health benefits and may be more convenient than fitting one longer period of activity into the day. To be ready anytime, keep some comfortable clothes and a pair of walking or running shoes in the car and at the office.
The Walk Kansas program provides an opportunity for individuals to participate in a community fitness activity starting on March 13. The eight-week program has teams of six collectively reporting their physical activity each week. The goal is that during the program, members will develop some healthy lifestyle habits of physical activity and improved nutrition that can last a lifetime. Cost is only $6 per person, or $15 per family and includes weekly newsletters and group walking events. The team aspect adds incentive and encouragement. Free health screenings and drawings will be offered at the kick-off and ending celebration.
Enroll in Walk Kansas by picking up a packet at the extension office on first floor of the courthouse or online at www.bourbon.ksu.edu. Click on Health and Nutrition and the Walk Kansas logo to find registration materials. Registration deadline is March 2 if ordering T-shirts and March 4 for all other registrations.
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or email@example.com.