Happy New Year! Cheers to new beginnings, a fresh start and renewed motivation. Last year I shared that there are 5 main areas of health: Physical, Mental, Social, Emotional and Spiritual. This year, I just want to focus on the physical area. Taking care of physical health can benefit all the other areas, as well. There are four main pillars of physical health: exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress. Exercise can help with the sleep and stress pillars, as well.

The definition of exercise is: “horrible.” That was a joke. It’s not horrible. Really, it’s not. That might be most people’s opinion, but it is not the actual definition. Exercise is- “bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health”. Get your body moving–more than just your thumb on your phone or reaching for the TV remote. It can be simple and it does not have to be horrible! Of course, the more effort you give, the greater the results can be, but something is better than nothing. You don’t have to make resolutions if you don’t want to, but do make a plan. Don’t try to change everything at once! That will overwhelm you and derail you by February 1st. Pick one or two activities and make time for them. There is rarely time left over to “squeeze it in.” Make movement a priority for your day, at least 5 out of 7 days a week. It helps to find something you like to do! You are more likely to stick with something that you actually enjoy doing. For example, I have a friend, who is an 80 year old widow, who loves to square dance. It’s great for movement, low impact and keeps her socially healthy, too. She recently moved to Minnesota and square dancing has been a great indoor way for her to stay active and to meet new people. You could search for dance classes near you. Pick whatever you like—ballroom, salsa, swing, line-dancing, hip hop, or whatever interests you. Just get your move, or groove on!

Here are some other ideas:

  • Join the Y(MCA). They offer a variety of health improving services. Also, an added bonus for parents is that the childcare is inexpensive and they even do parent’s night out occasionally. That could be great for your mental, social, and emotional health as well!
  • Lifetime Fitness has lots of great things for the kids to do as well as the parents. They offer indoor rock climbing, indoor and outdoor pools, and many other family friendly activities.
  • Do you need low impact activities? Have you ever thought about water aerobics, or yoga/pilates, or even cycling? These activities can be beneficial, yet not as much impact on the body/joints.
  • If you don’t have enough money to join a gym, head to the parks. If it’s cold/rainy outside, go walk around the indoor mall. There are plenty of options to get moving yourself and with your family, no matter the ages.
  • Go hiking or explore some of our many parks in East Cobb. Check out this website for some ideas near you: www.eastcobb.com/attractions/parks.
  • Do a couch to 5K with your kids, or with a friend, or by yourself. Even if you are an avid runner, maybe do a short one, just for fun! Here is a website that lists some races that are upcoming in Cobb County: runningintheusa.com/race/list/cobb-county-ga/upcoming.
Being Healthy Does Not Have To Be Horrible

Ashley Saunders is the Health & Wellness Chair for the East Cobb County Council of PTAs and the Rocky Mount Elementary PTA. She and her husband, Les, reside in Lassiter High School district along with their three kids, two of whom are students at Rocky Mount Elementary School. She taught PE at Palmer Middle and Dickerson Middle Schools.

There are so many more options available! Whether you’re a parent or not, you have an impact on the next generation. Lead by example, and let’s show them what it is to be a healthy individual—in all 5 areas—but especially in physical health. Find something that fits your groove—indoor/outdoor, individual/group, free/cost, high impact/low impact—and get your move on in 2019!

This article was written by Ashley Saunders, Health & Wellness Chair of East Cobb County Council of PTAs, and originally appeared in the January issue of EAST COBBER, on page 8. Click here to view the digital edition.