Pam Coyle

By Pam Coyle

I sit too much. I blame work and Netflix.

Sitting too much has some serious consequences, as researchers have discovered. People who sit for long periods – whether in front of the television, computer or steering wheel – significantly increase their health risks.

Stepping outside is one of the easiest ways to introduce more movement. Gardening, a walk to the corner store, a stroll around the block with the dog, a game of catch in the park – such moments improve circulation and thinking. They can be the foundation for lasting, healthy lifestyle changes.

How about dancing – or at least shaking it a little – at a free outdoor concert? The Live on the Green series starts August 8 and runs every Thursday evening through August 12. [] Why free? “Nashville has a unique identity as Music City, and I can think of no better way to celebrate our local talent than to host a free concert series in the heart of downtown.” says Mayor Karl Dean.

Nashville and Middle Tennessee have more to celebrate than music.

The region is blessed with a bountiful festival calendar and beautiful parks. Our extensive greenway system is family-friendly, too.

Not having the time doesn’t play as an excuse – for any of us. Kids today spend an average of 6.5 hours watching television or using a computer, according to Get Outdoors USA!, a national non-profit foundation. Studies increasingly show children spend less and less time outside. Not surprisingly, rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other diseases are at an all-time high.

Among adults, one study compared those who spent more than four hours a day in front of a television or other screen-based entertainment with those who spent less than two hours a day doing so. The longer sitters increase their risk of death from any cause by 50 percent and more than double their risks of cardiovascular disease events, such heart attacks.

Obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess waist body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels are associated with prolonged sitting, too.

Outdoor activities don’t need to be pricey or formal. Get Outdoors USA! has a great list of 10 kid-friendly ideas that include photo scavenger hunts and geocaching. With both, the only cost is prep time. Check out the ideas here [] Type “Nashville” at and you’ll get to a list of items for local GPS-directed “treasure” hunts. An interactive map shows you locations; beginner options are marked in green.

Find a pick-your-own blueberry farm. Make a list of historic buildings and create your own walking tour. Hop on a bicycle. Need more ideas? Check out these 10. []

One great benefit of outdoor activity is it brings out the child in all of us. So step away from the Netflix. Grab your spouse, partner, roommate, co-worker, friend or neighbor and check out a new spot – and bring the kids with you.