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National Park Service Announces Entrance Fee-Free Days for 2019

The National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on five days in 2019.

The five entrance fee-free days for 2019 will be:

  • Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Saturday, April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
  • Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
  • Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“The entrance fee-free days hosted by the National Park Service are special opportunities to invite visitors, volunteers and veterans to celebrate some important moments for our parks and opportunities for service in those parks,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith.

The National Park System includes more than 85 million acres and includes national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park site in every U.S. state.

Last year, 331 million people visited national parks spending $18.2 billion, which supported 306,000 jobs across the country and had a $35.8 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

Only 115 of the 418 parks managed by the National Park Service charge entrance fees regularly, with fees ranging from $5 to $35. The other 303 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2019 include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

New Physical Activity Guidelines

Any amount of physical activity — even two minutes’ worth — can add up to huge benefits for your immediate and long-term health, according to the new edition of the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Previously, the guidelines held that unless physical activity lasted 10 minutes or longer, it didn’t count toward a person’s recommended weekly activity goals.

The first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines came out a decade ago, in 2008.  The new edition also highlights a broader array of short- and long-term benefits from physical activity, all based on scientific evidence.

The guidelines now recommend that children aged to 5 be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development — at least three hours a day. Kids aged 6 through 17 are recommended to have at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Pregnant and postpartum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, while older adults should add balance training on top of their aerobic and muscle strengthening activities, the guidelines say.

“You need to get out and be active, whether you’re a child or an adult, whether you’re a pregnant woman, whether you have chronic disease — there’s no group that isn’t affected by these guidelines,” said Handberg, a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Committee.

Read more.

Plan Family Meals and Exercise

family bike rideAdapted from Healthfinder

To help keep your family healthier physically and emotionally, plan to do things together.

Here are suggestions from the American Academy of Family Physicians:

  • Set a good example by making healthier food choices and exercising regularly. Make a commitment as a family to getting and staying healthy.
  • Cook more often at home. The food probably will be healthier, and eating is a great activity for the entire family. Offer a healthy breakfast every day.
  • Involve your children in planning and creating healthy meals. Serve healthier snacks and foods, such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid sweets and chips.
  • Encourage children to learn and listen to their body’s signals for hunger and fullness. Show them that you only eat when hungry, not bored, angry or sad.
  • Get outside to exercise and play, and encourage physical activities. Limit screen time

Standing Desks Increase Students' Active Time

Standing desk pic 1Standing desks in classrooms could be an easy way to help make kids’ time in school less sedentary, a new research review suggests.

The study team analyzed data from eight previously published papers and found, not surprisingly, that kids spent more time on their feet when these desks were used instead of traditional classroom furniture.

Standing desks were also linked to a decrease in sitting time ranging from 59 to 64 minutes per school day. In schools, children spend over 50 percent of the school day sitting when they are traveling to school, during class, at lunch, sometimes even during recess, and traveling home after school.

While one cannot easily reduce sitting time at lunch or during transportation, changing the classroom environment to be more conducive to standing may be an easy solution.

Reducing sedentary time among school-age children is important because inactivity is linked to a wide range of health problems including obesity and diabetes. Some previous research has also linked sedentary time to poor academic achievement and low self-esteem.

For the current study, researchers focused on standing desks used in first through sixth grades. Students in the studies were around eight to 12 years old, on average, and the studies ranged in size from eight to 337 participants.

The types of desks varied across the studies, with some configurations fixed at a standing height and other adjustable options that allowed students to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.

Five of the studies tracked the effect of these desks on standing time. In two studies, children spent significantly more time standing after they got the desks than they did before, with increases ranging from about 26 percent to 31 percent. In two other studies, children stood 24 minutes longer per school day with standing desks.

One study also looked at screen time, often used as a proxy for sedentary behavior, and found that after standing desks were put in classrooms, students spent 71 fewer minutes each day watching television and using computer.

For more, visit bit.ly/1PsKFhB Pediatrics, online January 22, 2016.

Teenagers Aren’t Getting Enough Exercise at School, or Anywhere

teenagers legsTeenagers can be a notoriously sedentary group. Now a new study showed that school may be a big part of the problem.

The study, which used GPS devices to track when and where teenagers were getting physical activity, found that, on average, they were physically active only 23 minutes a day while at school. Meager as that figure is, it made up over half the 39.4 minutes of physical activity the average teenager got every day.

To continue reading this article, visit The New York Times

Teenagers Aren't Getting Enough Exercise at School, or Anywhere

teenagers legsTeenagers can be a notoriously sedentary group. Now a new study showed that school may be a big part of the problem.

The study, which used GPS devices to track when and where teenagers were getting physical activity, found that, on average, they were physically active only 23 minutes a day while at school. Meager as that figure is, it made up over half the 39.4 minutes of physical activity the average teenager got every day.

To continue reading this article, visit The New York Times

Be a Healthy Role Model – Bike to Work Friday

Group bike photoMany of you know of and participate in “Walk n’ Roll Wednesday.”  This program, supported by Healthy Central Florida, encourages students, and their parents, to chose an active commute to school.  From foot, to bike, to skateboard, to scooter, Walk n’ Roll results in more eyes and fewer cars on our streets, making our students, families, and communities safer and healthier.  Bonus, studies show students who are active are better able to learn and concentrate.

Modeled after Walk n’ Roll Wednesday, Healthy Central Florida is launching Bike to Work Fridays – weekly ride-to-work day.  And you’re invited!  This is an excellent opportunity to model healthy behaviors for your children.  Discuss the similarities between Walk n’ Roll Wednesday and Bike to Work Fridays with your children, share biking tips, discuss challenges, and brainstorm opportunities to overcome those challenges.  Use these programs as a reason to take a weekend family bike ride.  This can be the perfect catalyst for healthy family activities during this holiday season.

There are additional benefits — participating in Bike to Work Fridays not only provides a healthy role model for your children, but it can save you time by forfeiting those early morning and late night gym sessions.  In fact, 60 minutes of biking at a leisurely pace can burn up to 300 calories.

Biking can also help save the environment and saves you money on gas and parking.  Grant Petersen, founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works said, “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”Additional information about Bike to Work Friday, including a Personal Bike Escort service can be found on Healthy Central Florida’s website.  Take a look, you may even win one of their handsome orange “Bike to Work” day shirts.