LiveWell Northwest Colorado: Get up, and engage your brain |

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LiveWell Northwest Colorado: Get up, and engage your brain

Barb Parnell

It is common knowledge that for substantial health benefits, we need to be physically active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended that adults should engage in at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. The recommendation for youths is one hour per day of physical activity, thus the "1" component in the 5-2-1-0 message. In Routt County, 84 percent of school-aged youths and 65 percent of adults surveyed indicated that they get more than 40 minutes of physical activity every day, so we are definitely on the right track.

Improved physical and mental health isn't the only benefit of physical activity. Exercise also engages your brain. Research supports that engaging in physical activity prior to a challenging mental task increases the likelihood for success on that task. You don't have to run a marathon to see that benefit. In fact, any five- to 10-minute bout of physical activity has been shown to provide positive benefits. And if you exercise for 30 minutes in the morning, you are likely to be two-times more attentive later in the day, which is much healthier than a caffeine or energy drink

Think about that "brain drain" task you have in your day (e.g., helping your child with their homework, reading detailed materials). Before starting the task, take five to 10 minutes and move. You will be more focused and able to complete the task more successfully and with less frustration.

Throughout the day, get the physical activity you need to succeed using these 10 minute activity ideas:

• Incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine (e.g., park farther away from the grocery store).

• If you are watching TV, move during commercials.

• Choose a daily game for your family that promotes physical activity.

• Get up every hour and move.

• Walk or bike to work or nearby activities

• Jump rope, hula hoop or jump on a mini-trampoline

Winter is a great time to incorporate smaller bouts of activity throughout the day to get that minimum recommendation of half-hour per day of physical activity for adults and one hour for children.

Let's move to help make Routt County the healthiest county in Colorado.

Barb Parnell is the LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator and can be reached at