Connie Tompkins, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont.

Connie Tompkins, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont.

Vermont is one of the healthiest states in the nation, but there’s room for improvement. The latest numbers show that more than 60 percent of adults and 29 percent of children in Vermont are overweight or obese.

That’s a problem because excess weight means increased health risk. In fact, two of the major causes of obesity and heart disease are poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. Cardiovascular diseases and stroke are now the #2 cause of death in Vermont. The good news is there is something you can do about it and your local American Heart Association (AHA) members are working hard to help you do it!

The Vermont chapter of the AHA is involved in many activities that help individuals, schools, businesses, and communities incorporate regular physical activity and healthy diets into their everyday lives. Here are just three ways we do that:

  1. Getting kids fit. Children and teens should participate in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Yet, in the United States, kids’ cardiovascular endurance fell an average 6 percent per decade between 1970 and 2000. Kids today are roughly 15 percent less fit from a cardiovascular standpoint than their parents were as children. In an effort to help our children get physical activity, the AHA supported a new addition to the Vermont Education Quality Standards in 2014 for schools to offer 30 minutes of physical activity within or outside of the school day.
  2. Getting adults fit. We know that in order for adults and children to be physically active, you need places to go during Vermont winters! That’s why we are working with schools across the state to offer school facilities outside of school hours as places for community members to be active. Learn other ways you can incorporate physical activity into your day by clicking here.
  3. Changing diets. Eating a well-balanced diet including fruits and vegetables is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, but what about what you’re drinking? Consumption of beverages with added sugar, such as sodas, sports and energy drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks has increased 500 percent in the past 50 years and is now the largest category of caloric intake in children. Obesity rates increase with the frequency of sugar sweetened beverage consumption and are the single largest source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. The Community Action and Advocacy Committees of the Vermont AHA is raising awareness of the excess sugar content of these beverages and the associated poor health outcomes at schools, workplaces, and dentist and doctors’ offices. Learn more by clicking here.

Your health is affected by the choices you make every day and the Vermont chapter of the AHA wants to make it easier for you to make these choices healthy ones!

Visit the Vermont chapter of the American Heart Association online and get resources to help you live a heart-healthy life.

Connie Tompkins, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She currently serves on the Vermont board of directors for the American Heart Association. 

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