Tips for being active during winter months

Do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time to reach your weekly goal. Walk the dog for 10 minutes before and after work and add a 10-minute walk at lunchtime.

If you are like me, you try to set goals at the beginning of each year in hopes of making improvements in your life such as better health, more secure financial situation, or lessening day to day stress. My enthusiasm for these goals tends to wain as January goes on, and by February I am paying little or no attention to them. But this year I hope to do better, starting with physical activity. Maybe your situation is similar.

Adding physical activity into your life is possible. It doesn’t have to be done at a gym or in front of a television using a fitness video. Choose activities that you enjoy. Follow these 10 tips:

1. Do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time to reach your weekly goal. Walk the dog for 10 minutes before and after work and add a 10-minute walk at lunchtime.

2. Mix up your activity choices. Start the week with a swim at the pool, take a yoga class during a weekday lunch, lift weights in the evening and end the week by working in the garden.

3. Keep comfortable clothes and walking or running shoes in the car and at the office so that you are ready for activity at any time.

4. Find ways to move by taking a brisk walk around the parking lot or parking farther from the door at the shopping center. If you have an infant or toddler, take a long walk using the stroller and everyone gets some fresh air.

5. Work out during TV time. Watch a movie while using the treadmill or ride a stationary bike. Do chair exercises using hand weights while watching the evening news.

6. Be an active parent by walking up and down the soccer, football or softball field while you children play their game.

7. Physical activity is much easier with the support of others. Join a walking group, practice martial arts or sign up for an exercise class in the community. Recruit family and friends for support.

8. Enjoy the great outdoors! Walk through the leaves in the fall or build a snowman with the kids in the winter. Visit county, state and national parks and spend time hiking, canoeing or boating.

9. Look for wellness opportunities at work and in faith communities. Many factories, businesses and churches sponsor softball, basketball, and volleyball teams in local recreation leagues. You could also take the lead by starting a wellness of exercise group.

10. Chores count! Clean the house, wash the car, or move the lawn with a push mower. These activities all count!

Adults should aim for at least 2½ hours or 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Every little bit adds up, and doing something is better than doing nothing. But most important — have fun while being active. It will make it more likely that you will continue if you enjoy what you are doing.

Lentil and Black Bean Tacos

4 whole wheat flour tortillas

½ cup dry lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder¼ teaspoon dried leaf oregano

1 ½ cups water

Wash hands with warm water and soap. Wash vegetables with water before preparing. Cook lentils in the water over medium-high heat until almost all of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When there is about 2 tablespoons of water left, add black beans and taco seasoning. Stir and continue cooking until all of the water is absorbed (about 2 minutes). Serve in whole wheat tortilla with your family’s favorite taco toppings.

Yield: 4 servings, 1 taco each

Nutritional Analysis: 250 calories; 4 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 g cholesterol; 479 mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 9 g fiber; 1 g total sugar; 13 g protein

Editor’s note: Information for the article was obtained from USDA 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series, “Physical Activity at Home, Work, and Play (DG TipSheet No. 40, June, 2015). The recipe was downloaded from https://www.azhealthzone.org/recipes/lentil-and-black-bean-tacos.

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