Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Fitness

portell_swimmingAccording to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U. S. An inactive lifestyle is a top risk factor for heart disease which means regular exercise can help lower the risk. The benefits of regular exercise include strengthening the heart, lowering blood pressure, improving muscle tone, and reducing body fat to reach a healthy weight.

Most people need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day to receive health benefits. If 30 minutes of time is too difficult, divide the activity into three 10-minute sessions instead. In addition to providing fitness equipment at work, VIP also makes sure to include a variety of fitness activities as part of the Off-Site Day Habilitation (OSDH) program. Summer is the perfect time to go outside as there are so many activities from which to choose. Three of the more popular OSDH fitness events include swimming, going to the gym, and visiting local parks.

Swimming is a great fitness choice for anyone, but especially for individuals who may have physical limitations or who find other types of exercise painful. The Cape Girardeau Parks & Recreation Department hosts a weekly aquatic fitness class at the Central Municipal Pool. The instructor leads the class in exercises which help tone muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness, and increase flexibility. VIP employees began participating in the class six months ago and several continue to participate in the class once or twice a month. Portell was one of the first students to take the “Swimnastics” class and he looks forward to attending every month. Patsy was also one of the first students, and even though she is scared of deep water, she participates in the aerobic exercises from the shallow end of the pool. Steve joined the class last month and while he also prefers the shallow end of the pool, he does the same arm and leg exercises that everyone else does.P2210162

Another popular OSDH event which helps the employees stay fit in the summer involves a trip to the Osage Centre where they can utilize the gym and workout room. Beth enjoys walking, so she takes advantage of the indoor track where she walks laps until she reaches her one mile goal. Some employees, like Crystal and Portell, prefer the workout room where they can ride the stationary bicycles or lift weights.

If swimming or visiting a gym isn’t appealing, consider going for a walk on the nearly 1,000 miles of trails located in Missouri’s state parks. In June, Governor Nixon launched the “100 Missouri Miles” initiative, wherein he challenged Missourians to explore the state parks and complete 100 miles of outdoor physical activity by the end of the year. Participants can sign up at to log in and post how many miles they’ve walked. At last reporting, over 6,000 Missourians had logged over 350,000 miles. The visual interest of outdoor surroundings can act as a motivator to exercise. Many VIP employees delight in spending time outside in both state and local parks where they play a friendly game of kickball, or simply walk the trails. Mary Jane played kickball on her last park outing and even though she said it was a little warm outside, she is ready to do it again.

Whether it’s walking, swimming, hiking, or cycling, it’s important to find some type of fitness activity you enjoy and commit to doing it for at least 30 minutes every day. During the hot summer months, avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day and remember to drink plenty of water. Whatever activity you choose, stick with it and enjoy a healthier you!


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