July is National Parks and Recreation month. And with 42 state parks, four national parks, thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails, and rafting and fishing locations all over the state, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy life outside and physical activity during this Colorado summer.
With all of these opportunities for outdoor activity, are Coloradans more physically active than residents of other states?
The answer is yes, according to the 2013 Colorado Health Report Card. Colorado ranks fifth among the 50 states, with 84.2 percent of Colorado adults indicating they participated in leisure-time physical activity in the past month. If Colorado moved up to become the top-ranked state, 46,500 more adults would participate in leisure-time physical activity.
Colorado kids, on the other hand, rank 24th for vigorous physical activity. About two-thirds (67.6 percent) of children between ages six and17 participate in frequent physical activity. If Colorado were number one in the nation, an additional 66,600 children would participate in vigorous physical activity.
Colorado excels in some areas, but there is room to do better. For starters, more of us could spend some time outdoors. Studies have suggested that outdoor time increases vitamin D levels, which fight certain conditions like heart attacks and may also promote faster healing and feeling happier.
Engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week is one part of the recommended amount of physical activity from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Taking brisk walks, gardening and playing games are all activities that meet the moderate-intensity level.
Here in Colorado, we are lucky to have access to abundant outdoor resources. The high altitude means less water vapor in the air, which means that our sky is literally bluer. So why not go outside and enjoy it?
Want to know more about policies in Colorado to increase physical activity? Read CHI’s 2014 Reaching Our Peak: Scorecard for a Healthier Colorado.