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Upper Valley Trails Alliance: A Resource for Positive New Year’s Resolutions

January 28, 2014

By Kelley Dole, Fitness Educator/Personal Trainer and UVTA Board Member

We are a month into a new year, again. What unites people today is a shared preoccupation
with aspirations for the upcoming year. Many of us want to shed and depart from
negative experiences the past year, and celebrate hopes for new, positive, progressive
experiences for the next 365 days, until anticipating yet another new year. Underlying
contemplation includes feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, hope, and
enjoyment. We all want to enjoy life. We want to share enjoyment with loved ones,
make new friends amidst our journeys, and feel good.

Physical activity and recreation are widely recommended for positive health status,
which leads to feeling good. Obvious and redundant conversations around this topic
are obesity, heart disease, risk of stroke, high cholesterol, happy moods, and clear
thinking.

Adherence to activity is a leading crux across ages five to 99. Resources for physical
education among children have been cut continuously over the past three decades.
Video games, passive hours spent in front of media screens, large and nutrient-deficient
food portions, are just a few of the obstacles children face as we try to promote activity
adherence. Forty-five percent of American adults engage in minimum recommended
levels of physical activity. The United States Department of Health and Human Services
suggests that adults should engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic
physical activity per week. The number one variable that prevents adults from trying
fitness is Time. Common phrases around this topic include; “I just don’t have time.” “My
job does not allow me time to exercise.” “I don’t have a schedule that will allow me time
for exercise.” “My schedule does not work with gym hours.”

Personal attributes such as age, gender, income, education, psychological make-up,
biomedical status, attitudes and beliefs, all contribute to an individual’s participation in
physical activity. The most important personal attribute that predicts whether a person
will start and maintain regular exercise is Activity History. Positive exercise, sport, and
recreational experiences lead to later belief in the benefits of activity. There is a direct
correlation between a negative, childhood physical education experience and sedentary
lifestyle. This barrier is common, and in my opinion, surmountable.

Two critical things (among many others) in the fitness and medical fields that were
accomplished during 2013 are important to celebrate as we think about positive
resolutions and solutions. The first is that in June 2013 the American Medical
Association recognized obesity as a disease. Furthermore, the House of
Representatives and Senate introduced a bipartisan bill titled the Treat and Reduce
Obesity Act of 2013. Implications on this matter are brimming with support for increased
activity among children and adults.

Enjoyment has been shown to be the leading factor that keeps people coming back for
more. I truly believe that when people feel like their exercise routines are fun, they tend
to adhere long term, smile more often, perform activities of daily living with higher
energy levels, and eventually forget those old, negative, physical activity experiences.
Moreover, access to facilities, social support from family and friends, injury history,
family health history add to the list of variables that play a role in making regular activity
a lifestyle priority.

Moving on to positive solutions, I connect the Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA) to
hopeful advances in public health and physical activity. Here in the Upper Valley, we
are fortunate to have close proximity-access to a myriad of outdoor trails throughout all
four seasons. This hardworking nonprofit organization has connected to area schools
by successfully creating a program called Passport to Winter Fun. The aim is to inspire
children and families to enjoy activity and time together outdoors. Additionally, UVTA
partnered with Lake Morey Resort and Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, VT to create a
four mile long ice skating trail. Throughout spring, summer and autumn, children and
adults have access to walking, hiking, dog-walking, running, school field trips, and
connecting with nature. Area bicycle paths connected to UVTA trails make commuting
without a car safer and more enjoyable. The list of UVTA 2013 accomplishments goes
on. One UVTA 2014 goal is to create a Winter Passport to Fun for adults as a means
to connecting people and promoting positive physical activity experiences.
Whether you want to enjoy more outdoor time with loved ones, create time for physical
activity, enhance an already existing fitness and health routine, conquer winter cabin
fever, or join in our stewardship for others efforts, the Upper Valley Trails Alliance is a
resource for positive New Year’s resolutions.
Happy Trails!

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