Simple lifestyle changes to lead a more active life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a regular, monthly series of articles to be provided by the Partnership for a Health Community, an organization dedicated to improving the health of Suffolk residents.

By Mark Furlo

Suffolk Parks and Recreation

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With 200 cable or satellite channels, the Internet, Game Boys, Nintendos, Play Stations, and a whole host of other electronic doodads and gadgets, it has become very easy to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is becoming an increasing problem in the United States. Citizens of the United States have the largest average weight of all the countries in the world. It is important to teach our children to make good decisions on how to spend their leisure time.

If you burn off more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Other benefits of leading a more active lifestyle include stress and boredom reduction, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced muscle tone and strength, and stronger bones (to prevent osteoporosis). Here are a few ideas on how you and your family can make simple changes in your lifestyle to lead a more active life.

Look at how you spend your money. Instead of buying the new John Madden football video game for your child, sign him or her up in a football or soccer league. Volunteer youth sports associations located throughout the city offer a wide array of sports. To check out a listing of the different associations, go to For athletic leagues organized through Parks and Recreation, visit or call Suffolk Parks and Recreation at 923-2360.

Visit a museum. Hampton Roads is unique in the fact that it has many different types of museums. The next time you are thinking about plopping down $20-$40 at Harborview or Movies 10 to see a movie try instead strolling through the Children’s Museum, The Living Museum, or the Suffolk Art Museum. For a listing of museums in the area, visit

Get involved in an active hobby. Walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading, swimming, and hiking are great hobbies. The next time you go to turn on your favorite sitcom, go out to the garage and dust off your bike. Take a ride around the block with your whole family. If the parents rollerblade or job, the children can keep up on bikes or scooters.

Take a nature walk. Newport News Parks and Recreation has great wildlife brochures. Listed on their brochures are all of the different species for reptiles, plants, amphibians, etc. that are found in our area. There is also a small block for you to check after you have spotted the item. These are available at the Discovery Center in Newport News Park; call 886-7916 for more information. Another great way to enjoy the parks in our area is letterboxing – finding boxes hidden on nature trails and other locations with clues from the Internet. For more information on letterboxing, go to

If everyone could just think of an active alternative to watching television three times a week, we could begin to combat the problem of obesity.

Mark Furlo is the Recreation Specialist with Suffolk Parks and Recreation and a member of the Healthy Eating Task Force, a sub-committee of the Partnership for a Healthy Community. The Task Force’s mission is to coordinate the resources of the community in a collaborative effort to improve the mental, physical, socio-economic, and spiritual health of all its citizens. Articles written by Task Force members to help promote a &uot;healthy community&uot; will appear in The Suffolk News-Herald on the last Tuesday of the month for the next year. For more information on the Healthy Eating Task Force, contact Virginia Savage at 934-4933.