Kids, families encouraged to 'Shape Up Across Colorado'

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— If you're struggling to keep your children motivated to get up off the couch, you're not alone.
Many parents would like to instill a positive attitude toward a healthy, active lifestyle in their kids. Yet nationwide, the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than doubled in the past three decades.
The Colorado Governor's Council for Physical Fitness may just have the answer with the "Shape Up Across Colorado" program. It's not just for children families who want to make health a priority can join the growing numbers who are already shaping up.
Developed in 1989, Shape Up Across Colorado has nearly 57,000 school-age participants. An additional 3,000 adults are participating, primarily through work-based programs sponsored by large companies or community efforts led by organizations such as Denver-area YMCAs and the American Heart Association. Federal and state funding makes the program free to all participants.
Shape Up Across Colorado encourages people of all ages and abilities to do 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Participants record their efforts on an activity grid card that represents a map of Colorado. Each 15 minutes equals one mile, and the goal is to accumulate 400 miles in order to move across the state. A full grid card earns the participant a certificate of completion signed by Gov. Bill Owens.
There is no debate about the importance of physical activity.
The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health states that exercise improves strength and endurance; helps build healthy bones and muscles; helps control weight; reduces anxiety and stress. Exercise also increases self-esteem and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the report.
Yet this message isn't getting through to a large portion of our population. Inactivity and poor diet cause close to 300,000 deaths per year in the United States.
Sedentary adults are more likely to be overweight and are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer.
Shape Up Across Colorado is aimed primarily at children because patterns developed in youth whether healthy or unhealthy carry over into adulthood.
To request a Shape Up Across Colorado grid card, contact the Yampa Valley Health Plan Wellness Program office at 871-2500. Cards are also available at the Community Health Resource Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
The program is free, though each participant is encouraged to purchase a T-shirt for a $10 fee.
Proceeds from the sale of all Shape Up Across Colorado products support the program.
So how about it, Routt County? Are you ready to start trekking across Colorado? There's no better time to begin than today.

Lisa Bankard, M.S., is wellness coordinator for the Yampa Valley Health Plan.

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