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Health Officials Say Small Steps Can Lead To Big Gains
Updated January 10, 2017 6:01 AM | Filed under: Health
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Many people resolve to get fit in the New Year. But those resolutions can falter as temperatures plunge, making curling up on the couch with hot cocoa more appealing than a brisk walk or jog through the snow.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) wants Hoosiers to know that it's easier to meet goals for a healthier 2017 during the winter than they might think. The first step is to start with the right mindset, said Lindsey Bouza, ISDH wellness and physical activity coordinator.

"Physical activity is any bodily movement that expends energy," Bouza said. "You can burn calories doing activities not often thought of as exercise, such as vacuuming, playing with your kids and standing up frequently at your desk."

Physical activity can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as some cancers and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults achieve 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk, each week. However, the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that only 44 percent of Hoosiers achieved the recommended level of activity.

Bouza said small steps now can help Hoosiers achieve that activity goal. Start by using the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a long walk around the mall with friends or even doing squats while brushing your teeth. Over time, little changes can bring big improvements in health.

ISDH urges Hoosiers to keep safety in mind while exercising outdoors:

  • Check the forecast before heading outside. Consider temperature, wind and moisture, along with the length of time you'll be outside, when planning a workout.
  • Get indoors immediately if you experience numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation, which could be signs of frostbite. Slowly warm the affected area, but don't rub it, since that can damage the skin. Seek emergency care if numbness persists.
  • Dress in layers that can be removed when sweating but then put back on as needed. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to the skin.
  • Use caution when shoveling snow, especially if you are over age 40 or typically inactive. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure, constrict arteries and decrease blood supply. Take care to stretch before you begin, push the snow rather than lifting it, and stop immediately if you experience chest tightness or dizziness. For more safe shoveling tips, visit the National Safety Council at http://bit.ly/1uT5azo.

Winter might not be the same without an occasional cup of hot cocoa on the couch by the fireplace, but with the right amount of physical activity each day, it won't have to mean that New Year's resolution has gone to waste.

To learn more about the CDC's physical activity recommendations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/. For important health and safety information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.



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