By Breanne Smith
Local schools are almost out, gas prices are high and that spot on the couch in the air-conditioned living room looks especially inviting. Then again, there's that whole New Year's resolution to get yourself and your family fit that you've just let slide for the past few months.
Take Action 2 summer fitness program for local school-aged children and their parents might be the solution to your conundrum. Aimed at combating and studying childhood obesity, the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine-sponsored program begins June 14 at the Athens Community Center.
The eight-week program, which is in its second year, is open to overweight or obese children who are 6 to 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. Physicians, exercise physiologists, trainers and student dieticians and nutritionists will be on hand to guide the 80 participants.
"We want to involve students and their families in nutrition and exercise," said Dr. Jay Shubrook, a physician and assistant professor of family medicine who co-founded the program. "Most family interventions are more successful and have more real-world application."
The grant-funded Take Action 2 program is free to participants, who also can receive gas vouchers and are offered incentives along the way, such as Wal-Mart cards, bowling passes and the use of iPods and exercise equipment.
"Last year, we were able to improve the fitness level of almost all the participants," Shubrook said. "We decreased the cholesterol level of some adults and teenagers and saw some weight loss in adults."
Children participating can expect age-appropriate activities such as Dance Dance Revolution or other fitness-enhancing games and projects looking at nutrition. Adults from all fitness levels are welcome and will use the aerobic machines and track, while also learning about healthy living and how to properly read food labels for nutritional values.
The bi-weekly sessions last two hours, and each person has his or her own exercise prescription with no more than three participants per trainer.
"The most important thing is if we can help expose people to alternatives for healthy living," Shubrook said. "We want kids to have fun and parents to learn new things, opening a family dialogue about healthy living. If we help lower the numbers -- cholesterol, weight -- that's just a bonus."
A limited number of openings are still available. Interested individuals should contact Shubrook at 740-594-2416 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.