All posts by Hailey Kurtenbach

Tips for Parents During COVID-19

Parents and teachers will play an important role in helping children make sense of the changes occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic. We need to work together to discuss coronavirus disease in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Here are a few tips from CDC to keep in mind:

Remain calm and reassuring

  • Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Make yourself available to listen and to talk

  • Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma

  • Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is honest and accurate

  • Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
  • Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Changes in daily routines can be stressful for everyone. Use this time to: 

Reinforce healthy habits

  • Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Explain how germs can spread and remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Invite kids to help choose and prepare healthy meals. Be sure to include lots of whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies (canned and frozen count too!) and other nutrient-dense foods.

Focus on self-care

One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to do things that you enjoy. Sometimes these are individual pastimes and sometimes they involve others. Here’s a short list of some healthy self-care activities to add to your routine:

  • Meditate for a short time every day
  • Start a hobby like crafting, drawing, or cooking
  • Read a book
  • Start a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Family game night
  • Do strength training together

Stay active and try new activities

When kids are out of school—for any reasonparents and caregivers often need activities and resources to keep kids moving and learning. Here are a few ideas to help you prepare:

15 Tips for Healthy Cooking at Home

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many ways to make small changes toward a healthier eating style.

Simple swaps can make at-home dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor:

  1. Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
  2. Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese.
  3. Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar.
  4. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins.
  5. Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.
  6. Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt.
  7. Liven up your family meals by trying new spices.
  8. Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork.
  9. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.
  10. Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens.
  11. Marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling.
  12. Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.
  13. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  14. Include protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans, and whole grains on the other half of your plate.
  15. With each meal, add calcium-rich foods such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages.

And remember, healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures. Find out more about ethnic foods for a healthy plate at EatRight.org.

Source: ChooseMyPlate.gov

Fit & Strong!

Exercise is proven to help manage arthritis symptoms. It’s shown to increase strength and flexibility, reduce joint pain, and help combat fatigue. In fact, lack of exercise can actually make joints even more painful and stiff.

Fit and Strong program logoFit & Strong! is an 8 or 12-week physical activity program designed for adults—especially older adults—with arthritis. Due to COVID-19, Fit & Strong programs are currently meeting virtually using Zoom and an online portal.  

 

Class activities include:

  • group discussion
  • goal setting
  • lower extremity strength exercises
  • aerobics
  • stretching
  • introduction to balance
  • upper body exercises

Register online for a virtual Fit & Strong program, or call 888-484-3800.

Benefits to You

Fit & Strong! can help you:

  • Learn about osteoarthritis and how physical activity can be tailored to your needs to help manage symptoms
  • Learn safe stretching, balance, aerobic, and strengthening exercises 
  • Increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise over time
  • Incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle
  • Develop a physical activity routine you can continue after the program ends

Questions

For more information on the Fit & Strong! program, contact:

Nikki Prosch, SDSU Extension Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist
605-882-5140 or 605-688-6409
nikki.prosch@sdstate.edu

Hope Kleine, SDSU Extension Health Education & Food Safety Field Specialist
605-782-3290
hope.kleine@sdstate.edu

SDSU Extension logo

Walk With Ease

Walk With Ease is a six-week walking program that teaches safe ways to incorporate physical activity into daily life. This program is doctor recommended, and developed and certified by the Arthritis Foundation.

There are two ways to participate:

  • Try the self-guided approach
  • Join a group-led class

Please Note: At this time, all group-led classes are canceled until further notice due to measures taken by the SD Department of Health in response to COVID-19.

South Dakotans are encouraged to enroll in the self-guided program, which allows people to participate while practicing safe social distancing.

Register online for the self-guided Walk With Ease program, or call 888-484-3800.

Who can participate in Walk With Ease

All ages and ability levels can participate! If you are able to be on your feet for at least 10 minutes without increased pain—even if you use a cane or a walker—this program is a great way to increase physical activity.

Health and wellness benefits

Walk With Ease can help you:

  • Walk safely and comfortably
  • Improve your flexibility, strength, and stamina
  • Reduce pain associated with arthritis

Walk With Ease program logo

Self-guided program

Are you looking to start walking, but not able to commit to an in-person walking group at this time? Join an online six-week session from anywhere in South Dakota. Sessions are held 4-5 times each year.

When you register for the self-guided Walk With Ease program, SDSU Extension will send you:

  • Free Walk With Ease book
  • Tips and techniques to manage your walking and arthritis
  • Emails to check progress

Participants are encouraged to send weekly walking logs to follow their progress throughout the self-guided program.

Group-led class

Group-led sessions are led by CPR certified leaders who are trained in the Walk With Ease program. Each 1-hour session includes:

  • Brief education discussion
  • Warm-up and cool-down exercises
  • 10-35 minute walk at your pace
  • Optional activities and exercises using the class materials

Questions

For more information on the Walk With Ease self-guided program or to find a group-led class near you, contact:

Nikki Prosch, SDSU Extension Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist
605-882-5140 or 605-688-6409
nikki.prosch@sdstate.edu

Hope Kleine, SDSU Extension Health Education & Food Safety Field Specialist
605-782-3290
hope.kleine@sdstate.edu

SDSU Extension logo

 

Move Your Way: Physical Activity for Families

Walk. Run. Dance. Play.

We all know physical activity helps us stay healthy. But finding time to move more and sit less isn’t always easy. Fortunately, we have some tips, tricks, tools, and suggestions to help your family set goals and stay motivated.

Sitting for long periods of time (being sedentary) is bad for our health. So, we need to find ways to move – even just a little more throughout the day – because it can have big health benefits that start almost immediately. 

Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts and can make daily life better. For example, a quick 10-minute walk or trip up and down the stairs can:

  • Boost your mood
  • Sharpen your focus
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve your quality of sleep
  • Improve insulin sensitivity

Sounds good, right? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Adults need:

Aerobic Activity

150 minutes or 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week. If you prefer vigorous aerobic activity (like running) aim for at least 75 minutes per week.

icons of adults biking, swimming, walking a dog, playing wheelchair basketball, and gardening

Muscle-strengthening Activity

At least 2 days per week, do activities that make your muscles work harder than usual.

icons of adults lifting weights and doing pushups

Kids (6-17) need:

Aerobic Activity

  • 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Anything that gets their heart beating faster counts.
  • At least 3 days per week, encourage them to step it up to vigorous-intensity, so they’re breathing fast and their heart is pounding.
icons of kids riding bike, skateboarding, playing wheelchair basketball, walking a dog, hiking, dancing, and swimming

Muscle and Bone-strengthening Activity

At least 3 days per week, as part of their daily 60 minutes of physical activity. Anything that makes their muscles work harder counts toward muscle-strengthening – like climbing, swimming, push-ups or pull-ups.

Bones need pressure to get stronger so weight-bearing activities like running or jumping count as bone-strengthening activities.

But did you know that it can help them feel better right away? For kids ages 6-17, just 60 minutes of activity every day helps kids:

  • Sleep better
  • Get better grades
  • Relax
  • Improve their mood
  • Increase their self-confidence

And, it doesn’t have to be all at once. A few minutes here and there throughout the day can really add up. Here are a few suggestions to get them moving:

  • Walk to school or the bus stop
  • Dance around the living room
  • Play tag with friends
  • Swing on the monkey bars
  • Ride bikes to the park
  • Walk the dog
  • Join a sport or dance team

Talk to your kids about what they want to do to be more active, help them set their own goals, and encourage a routine.

Don’t forget the little ones…

Even the youngest children – ages 3 through 5 – will benefit from regular physical activity. Preschool-aged children should be active throughout the day. Starting this habit early helps with growth and development and establishes a routine they can continue as they grow older. Parents and adults caring for children this age should encourage active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) and aim for at least 3 hours per day.

Make a plan to stay on track

Now that you know what you need to do to stay physically active – let’s set some goals!

The key is to choose activities you enjoy. Mix it up and start out slow – especially if you’ve been inactive for a while. Remember, any amount of physical activity has health benefits.

The Move Your Way Activity Planner can help you choose the activities you want to do, set weekly goals and will give you personalized tips to help you stay motivated. Once you have your plan set up, be sure to share it with friends and family to help keep you on track!

Find more physical activity resources specifically for:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women & new moms
  • People with disabilities
  • People with health conditions

Physical Activity Benefits for Adults & Those With Chronic Conditions

There are so many health benefits to regular physical activity! The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans details specific scientifically proven benefits and offers a set of guidelines to follow for better overall health, but the point is – ANY movement is good. 

Even a small amount of regular exercise has preventative and therapeutic benefits and can improve health and mood significantly. As you prepare to take that first step and move your way, here are some things to keep in mind:

Physical activity can help you:

  • Prevent and manage chronic disease
  • Lower the risk of dementia
  • Improve quality of life
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Provide opportunities for social engagement and interaction with others

Physical Health

Being physically active delays death from all causes. It’s true, but if you need scientific facts, here’s one from the Department of Health and Human Services – and these guys have decades of research to back them up:

  • People who are physically active for approximately 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are not physically active.

And, if that’s not enough to get you thinking about adding a few minutes to your regular physical activity routine, consider this:

Cancer

Research shows that adults who participate in regular physical activity can reduce their risk of developing cancers of the:

  • Bladder
  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Endometrium
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney
  • Lung
  • Stomach

Cancer Survivors

Those who are physically active have a better quality of life, improved fitness and physical function, and less fatigue.

Cardiorespiratory Health

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. People who engage in regular physical activity have:

  • Reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Lower rate of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better blood lipid profiles
  • Reduced risk of developing hypertension
  • Lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure

Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Health

Regular physical activity strongly reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people of all body sizes, plus it:

  • Helps control blood glucose in people who already have type 2 diabetes
  • Contributes to lower plasma triglycerides and insulin levels
  • Improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and blood pressure

Bone and Muscoskeletal Health

Preserving bone, joint, and muscle health is essential the older we get. Regular activity can:

  • Slow the decline in bone density that happens as we age
  • Help people with osteoarthritis or other rheumatic conditions affecting the joints

Functional Ability and Fall Prevention

Physically active middle-aged and older adults – you know who you are – can:

  • Prevent or delay the loss of function (i.e. those everyday activities that can get harder as we grow older, like stair climbing, personal care or keeping up with grandkids!)
  • Lower the risk of hip fracture
  • Reduce the risk of falling and injuries from falls

Brain Health

Think about it. Your body and brain are connected. When you feel good physically, your brain can relax and… do better brain things.

Cognition

Physical activity can improve cognitive function in older adults including things like:

  • Improved memory
  • Ability to plan, organize, initiate tasks and control emotions better. 
  • Lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s

There is also evidence that those with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke can benefit from physical activity.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety disorders and depression are common mental disorders and are leading causes of disability for middle-aged adults in the United States. Regular physical activity can:

  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduce the risk of developing depression 
  • Improve many of the symptoms experienced by people with depression

Sleep

Plain and simple, adults that are physically active sleep better. Plus:

  • Less time needed to fall asleep
  • Improved percentage of time actually sleeping
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • More deep sleep
  • Improvements in sleep for those with insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea

Chronic Disease

Although types and amounts of recommended physical activity may differ, adults with chronic conditions or disabilities also benefit from physical activity. Regular physical activity can help promote improved quality of life for people with chronic conditions and reduce the risk of developing new conditions. For many chronic conditions, physical activity provides therapeutic benefits and is part of recommended treatment for the condition.

Those who are not able to meet the guidelines, should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and avoid inactivity.

Better Choices, Better Health® SD

This program offers chronic disease self-management education workshops that are designed to help adults living with ongoing physical and/or mental health conditions and caregivers understand how healthier choices can improve quality of life, boost self-confidence, and inspire positive lifestyle changes. 

Chronic disease workshops bring adults living with different physical and/or mental health conditions and caregivers together to learn new ways to problem solve, create action plans, and manage multiple chronic conditions. Find out more and register at Good & Healthy SD.


Everyone—no matter age, sex, body weight, or ability—can work toward achieving these benefits by building safe, healthy exercise habits. Any physical activity is better than none, so set your own pace in working toward meeting these guidelines.

Every week, adults should aim for:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity; and
  • 2 or more days of muscle-strengthening activity.

The Move Your Way Activity Planner can help you stay on track:

  • Set weekly goals
  • Choose the activities you want to do
  • Get personalized tips to help you stay motivated

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans report provides evidence-based recommendations for adults and youth ages 3 through 17 to safely get the physical activity they need to stay healthy.

The second edition, updated in 2018, offers new key guidelines for children ages 3 to 5 and new evidence that further demonstrates the health benefits of physical activity for individuals of all ages.

Guidelines for youth (3-5)

Preschool-aged children should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Adults caring for children this age should encourage active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) and aim for at least 3 hours per day.

Guidelines for Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily:

  • Aerobic: Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, muscle-strengthening should be included at least 3 days a week.
  • Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, bone-strengthening physical activity should be included at least 3 days a week.

Guidelines for Adults

Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.

Move more, sit less

New evidence shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.

Any physical activity counts

Americans can benefit from small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day. The first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans stated that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines. The second edition removes this requirement to encourage Americans to move more frequently throughout the day as they work toward meeting the guidelines.

Immediate health benefits

For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.

Long-term health benefits

  • For youth, physical activity can help improve cognition, bone health, fitness, and heart health. It can also reduce the risk of depression.
  • For adults, physical activity helps prevent 8 types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung); reduces the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
  • For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.
  • For pregnant women, physical activity reduces the risk of postpartum depression.
  • For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain and helps people maintain a healthy weight.

Managing chronic health conditions

For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.


Explore the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Find more physical activity resources specifically for:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women & new moms
  • People with disabilities
  • People with health conditions