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Hospital Corner: Choose to move for your health

| June 3, 2024 12:55 PM

Summer in Whitefish is nothing short of spectacular. Long, sunny days, which embellish the easy access to recreational activities, are among the reasons we live here and why so many love to visit in the summer. We love to get out and play!

Everyone from young children to older adults can benefit from being active and playing each day. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children and teens need 60 minutes of activity daily, while adults should have 150 - 300 minutes of activity per week. Preschool-aged children (ages 3-5) need the most activity of all, but they often don’t have trouble being active all throughout the day.

So, what should enough activity and play look like for you? Like eating a diverse and balanced diet, the body needs a variety of physical activities to stay healthy. Some activities build the musculoskeletal system, focusing on strengthening muscles, ligaments and joints. This can improve balance and mobility. Others can help improve the respiratory system. Aerobic exercises use large muscle groups and improve heart and lung health. Varying the intensity of activities, some moderate and some more intense, helps your body gain from each style of activity.

“There are numerous health benefits to physical activity,” said Logan Health - Whitefish Community Health Nurse Karrin Parker. “Staying active helps in the prevention and management of diseases, such as stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and obesity. It also benefits mental health by boosting energy, mood and self-esteem while reducing stress and anxiety.”

If summer in Whitefish also conjures up images of traffic and lack of parking downtown, then think about leaving the car at home or parking on the outskirts of town. Choose to get to your destination on your own power. The city’s sidewalks and extensive multi-use paths offer an alternative to the over-congested roadways and parking. There are times when walking, biking or rolling by skateboard, scooter or wheelchair actually get you where you want to go faster than a motorized vehicle, and parking is never an issue!

Challenge yourself to change up your commute to work, to get groceries or see friends by using your body for transportation. Trading “windshield time” for a more scenic, slow-motion view of walking or rolling to your destination is also good for the brain. Aerobic activities like biking, hiking or running boost cell growth in the brain. Even walking can stimulate the brain— consider a walking meeting at work to get moving and foster creativity.

Being active is something we can do independently by choosing to move at your own pace on your own schedule. It also can be an enjoyable social experience. Having a balance of solo and group activities promotes emotional health, increases resiliency and boosts a sense of well-being.

Riley Polumbus writes the monthly Hospital Corner column for the Whitefish Pilot and manages community relations for Logan Health – Whitefish at rpolumbus@logan.org.