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Overcome the obstacles and keep walking!

9 Jan

Nico, tango and I taking a rest after walking!

It’s true, it’s wintertime and it’s cold outside. If you are like me, the cold weather is not going to stop you from taking a walk outside. I understand that It’s much easier to sit inside on a frigid, blustery day and read a book, under a blanket while sipping a mug of tea but this can make it difficult for us to find that motivation we had, not too long ago on January 1st to exercise and get fit. The cold weather is only one of the many barriers that exists when trying to implement a physical activity routine, especially one focused on walking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists obstacles such as sidewalk conditions, crosswalks, lack of daylight in the winter, and safety from traffic and crime. But when we really think about it, we know that exercise is a necessary part of our daily routine. So if you won’t go outside for a walk because of one of these reasons, how you can get in 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of physical activity without being in fear of freezing our feet off? Mall walking! While this isn’t a new idea, or even a very creative one, the mall is extremely underutilized for those who wish to exercise. Shopping malls can offer some of the best perks, such as:

  1. Temperature-controlled building
  2. Easy to access bathrooms
  3. Free water fountains
  4. Flat and level walking route
  5. Well-lit and safe environment with a security presence
  6. Benches to rest
  7. No membership required, so family and friends can walk with you

Call a friend and go to the mall to walk. Research studies further suggest that when individuals exercise with a friend who is also motivated, they are more likely to exercise longer, harder and enjoy it more. The American Heart Association states that walking 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.

Is walking in the mall challenging? Use the talk test. The talk test will determine if you are exercising at a moderate or vigorous level of activity. If you’re walking at a moderate pace, you should be able to talk, but not sing. Vigorous activity occurs when you are not able to say more than a few words without having to stop. If you walk into the vigorous zone, slow down or take a quick break to lower your heartrate to a moderate level.

Most malls open their front doors at least an hour early for mall walkers to have free reign. This is probably the easiest time to get your steps in, since you will not have to maneuver around crowds coming in and out of stores. It’s up to you if you want to tackle walking the stairs for a workout bonus.

So step into the land of department stores with your pair of walking shoes and have fun this winter! For more information on increasing your level of physical activity and walking, see the tips on UGA Extension website at

Kristen Sumpter, UGA Extension Agent wrote the “Mall walking” article, I expanded on it and used it for this week’s blog.



Children as decision makers

10 Jun


The United States is facing an obesity epidemic. In Georgia alone, 70% of adults, and 40% of children are obese. In general, obese people die 20 years earlier than those who are not. The messages have been everywhere, establishing that we all need to begin taking better care of ourselves and our loved ones. Sometimes, it may feel like this epidemic is refusing to loosen its grip on our society. Recently Danielle Comer, a student intern from Georgia Southern University, working at our Extension office in DeKalb County attended a conference with the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, at The University of Georgia. The conference entitled “Family and Community as Pathways for Health: Obesity Prevention and Intervention Strategies”, allowed several well renown speakers to present the most recent approaches to tackle the obesity problem. Dr. Jerry Gale, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, desired for the conference to encourage people to take immediate action.

Danielle reported back to us with great enthusiasm about her experiences at the conference. A summary of the presentations include the emphasis speakers made about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity as ways to fight obesity. If you have children, it is a great idea to involve them in meal planning by giving them several options. When parents buy healthy options they can give the children healthy options to choose from. They will not need to worry about the whole process and the children still have a say in what the family will eat; and the parents know that it will be nutritious. Using the “” website can help with finding healthy selections and portions.

Later in the conference, Dr. Diane Bale, a professor of Human Development, Extension specialist in early childhood care and education, and co-creator of the Eat Healthy, Be Active initiative, spoke about activity and staying active, with a focus on children. She reminded the audience that children are naturally active and should be encouraged to stay active, in order to prevent obesity. Being active does not necessarily mean “exercising.” She admits that sometimes when children are told to exercise they do not always seem to be engaged and view exercise as a chore. Instead, she recommends playing in ways that keep children moving. Activity can and should be made fun, to avoid discouragement and negative mindsets about movement.

So let’s take action! Eat right, Move and Play.

Ayudando a los niños a tomar decisiones

10 Jun


En los Estados Unidos hay una epidemia de obesidad. En Georgia exclusivamente, el 70% de los adultos y el 40% de los niños son obesos. En general, las personas obesas mueren 20 años antes que las personas que no son obesas. Por todas partes hay mensajes que nos alertan sobre la necesidad de comenzar a cuidar mejor de nuestra salud y la de nuestros seres queridos. A veces, parece que la epidemia no va a aflojar su agarre en la sociedad. Recientemente Danielle Comer, estudiante de la Universidad de Georgia Southern realizando su práctica de verano en nuestra oficina de Extensión en el Condado de DeKalb, asistió a una conferencia auspiciada por el Departamento de Desarrollo Humano y Ciencias de la Familia, de la Universidad de Georgia, titulada “Familia y Comunidad como Sendas para la Salud: Prevención de la Obesidad y Estrategias de Intervención.” El Dr. Jerry Gale, profesor del departamento del Desarrollo Humano y Ciencias de la Familia, expresó sus deseos de que la conferencia estimulara a los asistentes a tomar acción inmediata.

Danielle nos ofreció un reporte sobre sus experiencias en la conferencia con gran entusiasmo. Durante la conferencia, los oradores enfatizaron la importancia de una buena nutrición y la actividad física como herramientas para luchar en contra de la obesidad. Si usted tiene niños, es una idea estupenda involucrarlos en la planificación de las comidas, ofreciéndoles opciones variadas. Cuando los padres compran alimentos saludables entonces los niños tendrán opciones saludables de donde escoger. De esta manera, los niños pueden expresar lo que desean comer y participar del proceso de decisión. La utilización del sitio web “” puede ayudarle a escoger opciones sanas en las porciones adecuadas para usted y su familia.

Más tarde en la conferencia, la Dra. Diane Bale, profesora de Desarrollo Humano, especialista de Extensión en cuidado de niños y educación temprana, y coautora de la iniciativa de “Eat Healthy, Be Active” (Coma Saludable, Este Activo), habló sobre la actividad física enfocada en los niños. Ella nos recordó que los niños son naturalmente activos y se deberían animar a mantenerse activos, para prevenir la obesidad. Ser activo no necesariamente significa “hacer ejercicios.” Ella confiesa que a veces cuando a los niños les dicen que hagan ejercicio, no siempre parece que sea algo que les guste ya que ven el ejercicio como una tarea. En cambio, recomienda el juego como una manera de mantenerlos en acción. La actividad puede y debe ser divertida, para evitar el desaliento y las actitudes negativas en contra del movimiento.

¡Así que tomemos acción! Comamos bien. Estemos en movimiento. Juguemos.




National Diabetes Month

4 Nov

salsa figures

Dancing the Salsa during the National Diabetes Month

            This week my county extension coordinator shared with me an article published in a recognized diabetes magazine. The featured story is about my favorite singer and fellow Puerto Rican Gilberto Santa Rosa, who is the Latino Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, during the National Diabetes month celebration that starts this month.  Eight years ago Gilberto discovered that he had diabetes, but that has not been a reason to stop singing, dancing and entertaining his fans spread around the world.

Santa Rosa’s goal, who has received countless recognitions for his contagious music, is to share an educational message with the Hispanic community about the incidence and the realities of diabetes. Latinos have 66% higher risk of having diabetes. He is also sharing that is very important that if you have diabetes you should visit your doctor to get informed about the treatment and the different alternatives available for each person. He encourages us to stay active and moving to help prevent and manage diabetes.

African Americans of non-Hispanic origin and Hispanic adults are less active (43.2% and 44.7 % respectively) than non-Hispanic whites (31%), according to the National Institutes of Health. To increase our physical activity, the American Diabetes association recommends that we dance to the rhythm of at least three of our favorite songs every day. I know that I don’t have a problem doing that following the salsa rhythms of Gilberto Santa Rosa! Which rhythms do you like?  Let’s dance salsa during the National Diabetes Month!

It’s time to join Walk Georgia!

6 Sep

Walk GA 4

In the picture from left to right: Janet Hollingsworth, Appling County, Susan Howington, Henry County, Raymond Joyce, Laurens County, and Edda Cotto-Rivera and Jessica Hill from DeKalb County.

Last Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, I participated in the “Family Track Walk”, an event were we promoted the first day of registration for Walk Georgia. More than 1,000 people enjoyed this activity which purpose is to stay active and healthy. Many of them took the opportunity to register and participate in the Walk Georgia program.

Walk Georgia is a free 12-week program sponsored by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension,  and supported in part by the Coca Cola Foundation. It is designed to help people to maintain a record of their physical activity, and motivate them to stay active and healthy. The time you spend doing your favorite activity is converted into miles so you can travel “virtually” across the beautiful state of Georgia. You have the opportunity to engage in a friendly competition with other residents of your county and see your progress throughout the weeks. Ines and I are engaged in our own friendly competition to discover which county, Gwinnett or DeKalb, has more participants!

The registration is open until October 9, 2013. For more information and to register yourself or a team of 4 friends or relatives visit the following link: Either you walk, dance, run or swim, let’s see each other at Walk Georgia!