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Posted on Oct 13, 2014

Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids

Moving. Eating. Growing. Together

As a nation we are overweight and out-of-shape. That’s not breaking news to anyone.  We all have some guesses about how we got this way: too much fast food, not enough fruits and veggies, more time spent on electronics than exercising.  You’ve heard it all before. But what you may not know, is how easy it is to reverse the trend. You should exercise and eat right so you live better and feel better, but the best thing you can do it teach your children to live healthy. At Aquasana our slogan is Live Healthy.  We work daily to bring forward the best advancements in water. Recently, we sat through a presentation by one of our newest partners, Austin, Texas based Marathon Kids, an evidence-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids live happier, healthier lifestyles.

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Marathon kids is an 18-years-and-running (pun intended) school-based K-5th grade program aimed at students of all abilities and fitness levels. Marathon Kids asks school-aged kids to commit to walking or running 26.2 miles incrementally over the course of 5-6 months.  Kids keep a“mileage log” and take part in events like school based 1-mile races.  In 2013, Marathon Kids served 300,000 kids in 841 elementary schools across 13 cities.  That’s a big number of kids served, but small compared to the need.  Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

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Eating healthy is a huge part of the equation, but so is physical activity. The US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that children up to age 17 receive a daily total of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

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MVPA is, in our opinion, the most underused term in the children’s health discussion. MVPA improved cardiorespiratory, muscular fitness, bone health, cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers. It also promotes favorable body composition, reduces symptoms of depression, decreases likelihood of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Not to mention, any teacher will tell you it improves concentration, memory and classroom behavior.  No one will argue MVPA is important, even vital for our kids health.  The problem is proper awareness.

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The U.S. Presidential Challenge Program (and others) have recently adopted the following recommendation: 12,000 steps/day to receive 60 minutes of MVPA for children aged 6-17 years.

Research is currently being done to confirm that while 12,000 steps/day should be a goal for all youth, 7,000 steps/day is the “RED ZONE.” Which is the minimum amount of exercise recommended for a child.  If you’ve ever worn a pedometer or tried to track your steps, you know 7,000 steps isn’t easy and 12,000 steps requires significant dedication. Without school support, there is simply no way for kids to get the needed amount of daily exercise.

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So, how do we help kids reach their MVPA goals?  Here is one easy-to-follow equation:

3 days a week X 20 minutes a day = at least 3 miles a week, 3 miles a week X 20 weeks (at least) = 60 miles > 26.2 miles.

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The equation may be easy to follow, but it’s not easy to implement.  There’s an old adage that says Pay Now or Pay Later.  If we don’t help our kids pay now, they will pay later with sky-high interest.  Look around you.  Chances are you are surrounded by people who would have benefited greatly by learning to “pay” attention to their physical health as children, so the price wouldn’t be so high as adults.

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