Get Fit: The next generation of fitness

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

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Editor's note: Statistics show nearly a quarter of Carson City's population is obese. This is the fifth in a six-week Get Fit Carson City series to help community members get healthy.

When Sue Linn set the goal for her fourth-grade class at Jacks Valley Elementary School to run 100 miles by the end of the year, some students were skeptical.

"I felt like I could never make it," said Justin Lopez, 10. "But now, we've actually run farther."

With no afternoon recess for the older children, Linn said she worried they weren't being active enough during the day. So she decided they would head out each day to run or walk a mile.

"I don't care if they walk," she said. "It just has to be a fitness walk. I don't want any Sunday strollers."

As of last week, they'd completed about 140 miles.

"We have been out in hurricane winds, we've been out in blizzards," Linn said.

And the kids have noticed a difference.

"On the first day we ran our mile, it was super hard for us," said Kyle Williams, 9. "Now, it's super easy. It's kind of fun and it gets you healthy."

That's the message Linda Hurzel, physical-education teacher at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, wants to send all children.

"You need to find something you like and do it," she advised.

She said the one hour a week of P.E. most kids get during school is not enough. Rather, she said, it should serve as an opportunity for children to learn different activities, then try them on their own.

"It's about getting them to be open to try new things," she said.

It's a habit that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives as their tastes change. For example, Hurzel said, she used to love running as a kid, and now she prefers walking.

She said Bordewich-Bray and other schools throughout the district have different programs to introduce students to new ways of getting fit, like snow shoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing and other adventures.

Erin Been, a P.E. teacher at Carson High School, started an after-school GET FIT class funded by Partnership Carson City.

The girls started March 15 working out after school for an hour three days a week.

Been said the girls were exposed to a variety of classes, ranging from kick boxing to belly dancing.

"They have become stronger and more confident," she said. "They are setting a good example of what youth today should be doing after school rather than going to eat junk and sit on the couch and play video games."

The real key, however, is getting the parents involved.

Hurzel said she remember her mom and dad twirling the jump rope for neighborhood kids, but said parents can also find something more practical.

From raking leaves to vacuuming to building a snowman or taking the dog for a walk, there are many ways to get a family's heart rate up.

"There are so many resources in this area to get outside," she said. "And it's a great opportunity to talk to your kids. The conversations you can have when the TV's not going, the phone's not ringing and you don't have laundry going - take advantage of that time."

Linn said that after seeing the success, she hopes to expand the 100-Mile Club from her classroom to the entire school next year.

She said she's seen each of her students improve in the mile, one improving his half-mile time by three minutes.

"Their enthusiasm is amazing," she said. "I never dreamed it would turn into this."

With the spotlight being turned on obesity-related health problems, especially among children, Hurzel said it is time to make changes.

"I think we as a nation are ready for this," she said.


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