University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Food & Nutrition Programs

Spring into Action During Physical Fitness and Sports Month

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, so designated with the goal of encouraging individuals, families and communities to develop or maintain routines of regular physical activity and practice sound nutritional habits.

Because spring is a time for renewal, there is no better time to start taking control of your health.  Consider trying some new, healthy recipes. Commit to a fitness routine, try out a new sport or simply explore the outdoors. Choose activities that are right for you. Here's why.

Approximately one-third of youths and two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese in this country. Instances of overweight and obesity are correlated with numerous health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. This trend can be prevented by increasing the amount of time engaged in physical activities, reducing the amount of time spent in sedentary activities and eating a balanced diet, including lean sources of protein, whole grains, reduced fat dairy products and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Being active on a regular basis offers health and wellness benefits for everyone, such as increased strength, improved mobility and enhanced mood and longevity. How much we need depends on our age and other factors.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity for children and adolescents and at least 30 minutes for adults five or more days a week. Even 10-minute bursts of this kind of activity can add up to your daily total.

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's SuperTracker web site at for your personalized nutrition and fitness plan as well as tips to stay on track. Be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare professional before starting an exercise program.

Here are some ideas for getting active this spring:

  • Form a walking group with friends, neighbors or workmates.
  • Challenge yourself to hike as many local mountain peaks as you can.
  • Ride a bike on some of the region's many trails, recreation paths and back roads.
  • Plant a home or community garden.
  • Do yard work including raking life back into the lawn.
  • Join a community sports league or just get outside for some active play with the kids.

Try to choose activities that are accessible and fun for you. That way you are more likely to stick with it.

To learn more, check out "Physical Activity--It's Essential," a University of Vermont Extension publication at


Here's a spring salad adapted from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service ( web site to start you on your way to eating healthier:


  • 2 cups spinach/mixed salad greens of your choice
  • 1 cup chopped carrots/vegetables of your choice
  • 1 cup fresh strawberry, orange or apple segments*
  • 1/4 cup Dynamite Dressing (recipe below)
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins or dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped pecans or other nuts

Fill a large platter or salad bowl with spinach/mixed salad greens. In a large bowl mix together the chopped vegetables and fruit segments. Add dressing to vegetable/fruit mixture and stir. Spoon mixture over salad greens. Top with raisins or dried cranberries and nuts and serve.

Vary the recipe by adding seasonal greens, vegetables and fruit. When fresh fruit is not in season, substitute mandarin oranges, pineapple or other canned fruit (in juice).*


  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to one week.

Nutrition information per 1-cup serving: 350 calories; 3 grams (g) total fat; 50 mg sodium; 12 g total carbohydrate; 3 g dietary fiber; 7 g sugars; 2 g  protein. Yield: 4 servings.