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Spring sunshine prompts spending time outdoors 

By Dustin Duncan  

For the Enquirer 

Sunshine, warm temperatures and blooming flowers could be a terrific recipe to encourage spending time outdoors and engaging in physical activity. 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children ages 6-17 need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.  

Coming out of a cold winter means more motivation might be needed to get off the couch. Being more active can help people think, feel and sleep better and perform daily tasks more easily. 

“Any physical activity that fits into the schedule is better than none,” said Erin Reznicek, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System family and consumer sciences specialist. “The best exercises are the ones you are motivated to do.” 

One way to get moving while enjoying the beautiful Alabama sunshine is to get the whole family outside and involved in physical activity. 

One idea is to go to a nearby park. Families that don’t have a large yard might try finding a nearby park with an open field and playground equipment. Start a game of tag or go on a nature walk through the park. 

Playing Simon Says can be a fun way to get everybody moving. Simon can ask everyone to touch their toes, stretch their arms up high, do arm circles or perform jumping jacks. 

If the nearby park has a track, parents can encourage children to ride their bikes while the adults walk or jog a few laps. 

If there is playground equipment, children can have their own fun. Meanwhile, adults can build arm muscles by swinging from monkey bars or doing a few triceps dips on a park bench. 

Exercising for 30 minutes each day as an adult doesn’t have to be expensive. There are so many simple and low-cost ways to enjoy exercise, from going for a walk with a friend to taking on a household chore, like washing the car or mowing the grass with a push mower.  

For those starting a new exercise plan, Reznicek’s best advice is to get moving. 

“Get into a routine starting with small bouts of physical activity every day,” she said. “Start slow, building confidence in your ability to be physically active. Try penciling in physical activity breaks to your daily calendar. Scheduling exercise might help you stay on track.  

“You will soon be pleasantly surprised by the health benefits and the way you feel.”