Try to Be More Active Next Year

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It’s that time of year where we all reassess our lives and vow to make changes to do better in the new year. I’m guessing many of us would like to be a little more physically active. I’m not talking about training for a marathon or riding bikes across three states (I’ve gotten Christmas cards from folks telling me of these adventures this year). I’m thinking more like starting with small achievable goals so that they can be accomplished.

Meg Sargent, a member of our Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less (ESMMWL) team frequently posts about exercise and fitness in their blog. Sargent is a Diabetes Prevention Program Coordination with the North Carolina Division of Public Health. She has a Masters of Public Health from East Carolina University and maintains a personal training certification. She takes this topic back-to-basis to give you the who, what, when, where, why and how answers on activity.

Why we need or want to be physically active?
It can improve your mood. Boost your energy and promote better sleep. Sharpen your focus. On top of that, it’s good for our bones and muscles and reduce risk of chronic diseases and obesity.

Who wouldn’t want all those good things?
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, a good goal to get you started is to try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every week (that’s less than 25 minutes a day). Another important component is to add some muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.

Who should you be active with?
Whomever you want! Exercising can be a great social experience. Take family or friends with you on a stroll around the block, get together with some friends for a dance party, or find some new friends at a local fitness class or pool.

I walk several mornings a week with some great friends and neighbors. We’ve been doing it for 17 years. Start a group of your own. It’s always better with a little friendly peer pressure to keep you going.

How to be active?
Be active any way you want! Doing what you enjoy is the most important part. You can dance, swim, play a recreational sport, go to the gymworkout weights stacked up beside a pair of sneakers in a gym., take a fitness class, walk on the beach (because you can) schedule a walking meeting with your coworkers, bike to destinations, or just around the block, play frisbee, rollerblade or workout with a friend or family member. The options are endless. Get creative!

When to be active?
Anytime! Anytime that works for you. Some people are morning folks and that works great for them. Others prefer afternoon and evening workouts. Even if you can’t find a huge chunk of time to dedicate to the activity, remember that you can always break your activity up into increments throughout the day. You can do five 5-minute bouts of exercise throughout the day to equal 25 minutes a day. Do what you can when you can!

Where to be active?
Anywhere! But pick a space that is conducive and supportive of your preferred activity. We have great weather here in SE NC (most days), so walking outside is easy. Or pick a gym, pool, or fitness center that’s right for you. Invest in a resistance band or jump rope that you carry around to exercise anywhere whenever you have time.

Sargent stresses in her blog posts that consistency is the key! Set yourself up for success by finding physical activities that you enjoy. If you enjoy the activity, it is much more likely that you will continue and make it a habit.

If you’d like to read Sargent’s original posts as well as others on eating smart, moving more, and living mindfully go to the ESMMWL blog at

Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less was developed by NCSU and the NC Division of Pubic Health. It is a 15-week online weight management program that informs, empowers and motivates participant to live mindfully as they make choices about healthy eating and physical activity. If you want to incorporate healthier strategies in 2024, learn more at

The team also offers a CDC recognized diabetes prevention program called Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes. The program is available for those with prediabetes or at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Learn more at

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at