Debi Pillarella, Fitness Program Manager, Take 5 For Life Program, Fitness Pointe, Community Healthcare System & Community Hospital, 2013 – 2014 Team Member

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Equipped with wristband wireless devices called a Fitbit, 120 students in four classes at Morton Elementary School tracked over 300,000 steps in a unique health and fitness program called Take 5 for Life. Designed to address the rise in childhood obesity, this 12- week program at the Hammond school was funded with a $25,000 grant from ArcelorMittal. The in-school program takes a holistic approach to educate children about the five key tenets for a healthy lifestyle. These are 1) Be physically active; 2) Eat and Drink Healthfully; 3) Manage your Mind; 4) Get your ZZZ’s; and, 5) “Feel Good about Yourself.” Morton is the latest school to participate in this model program that has benefited more than 5000 children in seven school systems that showed that overweight children increased activity and reduced at least one factor for childhood obesity. “It’s not about how many pushups you do, but about encouraging movement throughout the day,” she said. The Fitbit wristband uses a display of LED lights and vibration feedback when students reach their walking goal for the day. Launched last fall, the program brought into the classroom hospital dieticians, certified personal trainers, yoga instructors, and other health and fitness professionals.  There was a 72% increase in physical activity, 92% improvement in knowledge of nutrition, and 88% improvement in lean mass of students.

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