Nutrition Corner: Periods of inactivity can negatively affect your health

February 18th, 2016 10:18 am

Spring is not here yet! Walking outdoors in Northeast Pennsylvania has been a bit challenging to say the least. Traditionally, physical activity is thought to be an “outdoor” event. Even though we try to be engaged in physical activity, there are road blocks that we need to be motivated to overcome.

First, how much physical activity do we need? According to, adults should participate in at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level. That’s only about 20 minutes a day — or you could participate in 1 hour and 15 minutes of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level twice weekly.

Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should do strengthening activities like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights at least two days a week. Only 49 percent of U.S. adults are meeting their aerobic goal and only 21 percent are meeting both aerobic and muscles strength goals.

Physical inactivity or not moving for periods of time greater than 90 minutes may be a concern for some adults. It’s alarming to note that physical inactivity can cause type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that 7 percent of type 2 diabetes is caused by physical inactivity.

If your job or favorite pastime causes you to be inactive for 90 minutes or more, look for ways to get up and move around. It’s also important to set some small goals toward meeting the 2 and 1 1/2 hours of moderate activity each week, or 20 minutes a day. Here are some tips to reduce physical inactivity to get you started:

• At work, instead of emailing a coworker, get up and talk with them

• Take desk breaks

• Think about holding standing meetings

• If you travel, stop every 1 and ½ hours to walk

• At home, monitor how long you sit at the computer or television

Becoming more aware of your physical inactivity can improve your health. If you are not already, think of both meeting the physical activity guidelines and reducing your physical inactivity. For post-workout drinks, try this recipe to rehydrate and add protein. Enjoy!

Sunshine Smoothie

Pineapple, canned in natural juice 3 cups

One cup of chopped carrots

Two bananas

Two cups of crushed ice

Three cups of non fat yogurt

Cut carrots. Place carrots in blender and chop for a few seconds. Add some pineapples with juice and blend a few more seconds until carrots are smooth. Add remainder of pineapple juice, banana, yogurt and crushed ice, and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan, and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at