Let’s Get Physically Active…Outdoors! By Kristen Sumpter, Extension Agent in Fulton County

31 May

Whether you live in Atlanta or South Georgia, you are likely to spend 80 to 90 percent of your life indoors. The real question is – so what? Is this a bad thing? This is where we find running water, the relief of air conditioning in the summer, and even electricity to use those workout DVDs (and possibly VHS tapes) that could be getting a little dusty – being inside doesn’t seem too bad!

WalkGeorgiapicturewithfeetThe University of Georgia Cooperative Extension began the initiative, Walk Georgia, a free, online program that allows individuals to track their physical activity, set personal fitness goals, and earn points. Walk Georgia encourages you to do any physical activity that fits your lifestyle, whether you are exercising inside your home or the gym or moving outside in the sunshine. But if you can get outside, why not go outside! There are two simple reasons why: indoor air pollutants and improved mental well-being.

Indoor air is generally much more polluted than the outdoor environment and can negatively impact your health with issues ranging from asthma to lung cancer. A few of the culprits are mold, dust mites, lead, radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are found in paint, cleaning products and furniture. It’s imperative that we not only keep our homes and offices healthy and clean, but also focus on getting outside to breathe in Georgia’s fresh air.

The mood boosting powers of the outdoors is a second reason to get out in the natural environment. A study conducted by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that individuals who exercise outdoors have increased energy and enjoyment and less anger and tension compared to those who exercise indoors.2 Also, those who practiced physical activity outside were more likely to plan on exercising again. Don’t forget about the Vitamin D that you will absorb from the sunshine…you can’t get that indoors! This is great news for UGA Extension Walk Georgia participants. You can walk, jog, bike, swim, garden, play soccer, do yoga and much more under the sun!

Let’s review. If we decide to exercise outside, we will inhale fewer pollutants and have a higher chance of exercising again while maintaining a positive attitude. Whether it is a 10 minute walk during your lunch break or deciding to play basketball outside rather than at the indoor court, we encourage you to take on the challenge to be physically active outdoors at least once this week. Ultimately, you will not regret moving more to live more!

To register for Walk Georgia, visit www.WalkGeorgia.org.



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