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Loon’s help students get active

4-12-13Loons Fitness Watch Launch1Children throughout the region are taking time for exercise with a new program sponsored by MidMichigan Health in collaboration with the Great Lakes Loons and schools in Clare , Gladwin , Gratiot and Midland Counties. The Fitness Watch Project enables fourth and fifth graders to work toward the standard set by the U.S. Surgeon General for children to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day on five or more days.

“The goal of the program is to increase the total number of days and minutes of moderate intensity exercise of children through a system that incentivizes activity , resulting in improved physical fitness and reduction of childhood obesity , ” said Stephanie Leibfritz , R.N. , community education coordinator for MidMichigan Health. “The fitness watches track physical activity by detecting continuous movements during moderate or intensive activity. Self-motivation to be active is rewarded as the student receives real time feedback from the watch for each 15 minutes of exercise , including codes for earning points towards prizes after each 60 minutes of exercise.”

Partnering elementary schools include Ashley, Beaverton , Eastlawn , Floyd , Gladwin , Harrison Hillside , Ithaca North , Meridian , Pine Avenue and St. Louis Nikkari. At the schools , fourth and fifth graders are tested for fitness at the start of the 12-week Fitness Watch Project. They then receive an activity watch and are encouraged to engage in moderate intensity activity both in and out of school. All the while , the students log their activity and are incentivized with social support from parents and teachers , and the receipt of prizes. At the completion of the 12 weeks , the students are retested for improved exercise habits and fitness scores.

The Fitness Watch Project impacts some of the counties served by MidMichigan Health , Clare , Gladwin , Gratiot and Midland counties , and is based upon a goal from MidMichigan Health’s 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment to improve physical activity and eating habits in order to reduce the prevalence of obesity and the resulting health conditions. The assessment tracks heart disease , cancer and type 2 diabetes disease prevalence rates , as well as deaths in our counties resulting from these conditions.

The Fitness Watch Project has been funded in part by HealthPlus of Michigan , Inc. , the Midland Noon Rotary Club , through a Clare County Youth Action Council grant from the Clare County Community Foundation , and through a Gladwin County Youth Action Council grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation. Those interested in more information on the project may contact Leibfritz at (989) 839-1886 or stephanie.leibfritz@midmichigan.org.

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