Archive for the ‘PE and Health Care’ Category

Healthy Family Habits for Every Month of the Year

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

True positive change is often not drastic or sweeping. It takes time to modify your family’s lifestyle and create lasting healthy habits. SPARK creates resources for educators to teach kids the importance of physical activity and healthy eating at school, but establishing a healthy routine begins with parents at home.

As you look ahead to the New Year, consider these suggestions to improve the health of your family:


Update your gear.

Getting organized is often at the top of the list when we turn the calendar for the New Year. Start by going through your family’s activewear and equipment to toss, recycle, or donate what no longer fits, works, or is used. This leaves room for any new gear you need, like running shoes for growing feet, jump ropes and balls, or even bikes for the family.


Get outside.

With the holidays behind us at this point and the cold dreary weather starting to take its toll, your family may want to hibernate inside until spring arrives. But winter inactivity is meant for bears, not humans! Find fun reasons to get outdoors. Winter sports, like skiing or ice skating, are fun for the whole family. Even if you bundle up for a simple daily walk around the neighborhood or play in the snow in the front yard, the fresh air and activity will do everyone some good.


Evaluate your family’s sleep habits.

March is the month when an hour of sleep is forever lost as we “spring forward” and set the clocks an hour ahead. But this is a great opportunity to look at the sleep habits of your family, parents included, to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of rest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call sleep deprivation in America an epidemic that tends to accompany other chronic illness. This month, take a few minutes to improve the sleep habits, and therefore overall health, of your family.


Go to a ball game.

April marks the start of America’s favorite pastime as fans flock to baseball stadiums across the country. Taking your family out to the ballpark is an excellent way to get some fresh air and witness some inspiring athletic talent. If baseball isn’t your thing, find a basketball game, tennis match, or track and field meet to attend.

For added benefit, let the pros inspire you to play your own game of baseball (or other sport of your choice) in the backyard or park with the kids. Show them that it’s fun to work up a sweat, strategize, and partake in a little friendly competition just like the big-leaguers. Emphasize the importance of positive sportsmanship and team work for a well-rounded learning experience.


Join a gym.

Prepare for months of no school by getting set up at a nearby gym that offers classes and an active play area for kids. While kids certainly need some down time in the months away from everyday studies, resist television takeover. If you work during the day, pick out a few evenings to hit up the gym with your kids so everyone can burn off some of that summer energy.


Practice proper sun protection.

Actually, wearing the right sunscreen is important every month of the year—even the ones without much sun. Summer usually brings more opportunities for sun exposure, though, so make sure you are always prepared with sunscreen of at least SPF 30. You should also encourage your kids to wear hats out in the sun and do the same yourself.


Discuss oral care.

July is Oral Health Month (February is Children’s Dental Health Month), giving you the perfect opportunity to talk to your family about tooth care and decay prevention. Did you know that tooth decay is the top chronic illness in children? It is admittedly tough to make sure kids are really taking proper care of their teeth and entire mouth, particularly if they are resistant. Take some extra time this month to explain the importance of oral health in your family and to establish good habits.


Take up biking.

If you live close enough to your workplace or children’s school, make a commitment to walk or ride there instead of taking the car. You do not have to spend a lot to get the right gear. Check local consignment shops and garage sales for bikes that others have outgrown and then get a few weeks of practice in before the school year begins.


Do yard work.

Plain and simple, yard work burns calories and brings families together in a united front. Yard work also teaches responsibility and stewardship.


Practice moderation.

Halloween is often viewed as a candy and sweet free-for-all but it can also be a great lesson in portion control. Let your kids pick out their candy favorites and then donate the rest to an organization like Operation Gratitude, which sends it to U.S. troops overseas.


Run a turkey trot.

Start your Thanksgiving morning off right by entering a family-friendly Turkey Trot road race. These can be as short as a one-mile walk or as long as a half-marathon. Find the distance that accommodates everyone in the family and then bundle up!


Give back and raise awareness.

Find a cause that is close to your family’s heart and donate some time to it. Organizations appreciate donations of cash, clothing, and other household items of course, but actually working for the cause helps your kids really see the impact. Whether by sorting canned goods or sweeping out a shelter animal’s crate, find an active way to give back during the holiday season.

Making minor changes over time is the best way to establish healthy family habits and teach your kids about lifelong wellness. Start the year off right with the determination to stay active and you will be healthier overall come January 1, 2015.

New Funding for State Health Departments to Support Chronic Disease Prevention

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

“Prevention and Public Health Fund Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program”

Deadline: July 22, 2011

Funding Amount: $300,000 – $2.4M

  • Anticipated Awards: 53 (non-competitive)
  • Project Period: 3 years
  • Approx. Current Fiscal Year Funding: $ 39 mil
  • Approx. Total Project Period Funding: $ 129 mil
  • Funder: Affordable Care Act through the Prevention and Public Health Fund

Eligibility: State health departments, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands or their Bona Fide Agents. Grantees currently funded under FOAs DP09-901 are eligible to apply. P09-901 funds 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (i.e. the same agency that is funded under P09-901 must be the lead applicant)

Purpose: Create or update state chronic disease plans that incorporate coordinated approaches to program planning, implementation, and evaluation to achieve measurable outcomes for the top five leading chronic disease causes of death and disability (e.g. heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis) and their associated risk factors.

For more information and to apply for this grant visit:

Some helpful FAQ:

Question: How is the Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program different from the Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)?

Answer: The Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program is different from the Community Transformation Grant Program. The CCDP&HP Grant Program will support development or enhancement of State Health Department leadership, coordination, expertise and direction across targeted disease programs in a state or territories’ chronic disease portfolio.

In contrast, the CTG initiative is focused on supporting the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities to reduce chronic disease rates, prevent the development of secondary conditions, address health disparities, and develop a stronger evidence base for effective prevention programming.

Question. Does the Prevention and Public Health Fund Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Program replace the funding for categorically funded chronic disease programs, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and nutrition, physical activity, and obesity?

Answer. The CCDP&HP grant program does NOT replace the funding for categorical chronic disease programs. This is NEW money for state health departments to use to strengthen existing chronic disease capacity, specifically in cross-cutting areas like surveillance, epidemiology, evaluation, policy, communications, health systems work, and community partnerships/mobilization – areas that all or many of the categorical programs depend on and may each have developed to some degree on their own (e.g., a CVD epidemiologist, obesity epidemiologist, etc). It is expected that the chronic disease program will be able to improve efficiency and effectiveness of categorical programs by strengthening these cross-cutting areas

Question: Rumor has it that this current FOA/supplement to all 50 states is replacing the funding for the individual programs (ie, no more individual programs nor funds for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis). Is this the case?

Answer: The CCDP&HP grant program does NOT replace the funding for categorical chronic disease programs. This is NEW money for state health departments to use to strengthen existing chronic disease capacity…

Stuck in the Sixties

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

By Dr. Thom McKenzie

Forty-three years ago this week (1966) I received my first degree, a Bachelors of Physical Education. I had mastered a very excellent program, and I had wonderful teachers. They ensured that I was physically fit, physically skilled, current academically on exercise physiology, kinesiology, and other subjects, and that I had practice and feedback on managing and instructing students. I was ready for my first job as a high school teacher and coach, and I did well at it.

My teacher preparation program taught me nothing at all about promoting physical activity or changing human behavior (Skinner was still being entertained by rodents in his laboratory). But that was OK because it was the sixties and sedentary living was not yet a problem. There were no global obesity and diabetes crises and the term diabesity had not yet been coined. I was not at all concerned with getting my students active outside the gym, because they did this automatically. Most walked to school, many did physical labor at home, and the only screen time to worry about was during fly season in the summer.

In my current job as a researcher I spend more time observing what happens in gyms than directing what goes on there. Teachers are still doing pretty much what I did over 40 years ago, although they now face much larger classes and more disruptive students. I find most are pretty well prepared. Unfortunately their preparation has been aimed primarily at facing the challenges that I encountered long ago, not the challenges of today.

In a scientific study using direct observation we found that PE teachers in six states spent only about 20 seconds of each class prompting or encouraging their middle school students to be active outside of class (McKenzie et al., 2006). In addition at AAHPERD this spring, I conducted a very unscientific poll of physical educators and teacher educators. Of the over 40 higher education institutions represented, only two offered current physical education majors courses in behavior analysis/behavior modification and none provided coursework in social marketing.

Even when offered daily, PE provides only a small proportion of the 60 minutes per day recommended by health authorities. According to NASPE Standard 3, a physically educated person “participates regularly in physical activity.” PE teachers cannot help students meet this objective unless they have been prepared to promote physical activity beyond their gym walls. It is time for PETE (Physical Education Teacher Education) programs to become unstuck from the sixties. In the interim, it is up to district staff development programs to help teachers acquire the new skills that are needed to assist students to avoid a lifetime of sedentary living.


McKenzie, T. L. (2007). The preparation of physical educators: A public health perspective. Quest, 59, 346-357.

McKenzie, T. L., Catellier, D. J., Conway, T., Lytle, L. A., Grieser, M., Webber, L. A., Pratt, C. A, & Elder, J. P. (2006). Girls’ activity levels and lesson contexts during middle school PE: TAAG baseline. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(7), 1229-1235.