Staff and students shape up |

Staff and students shape up

The staff of a school may expend considerable brain power in a day, but sometimes its physical activity lags behind. Trailside Elementary is one school striving to create healthy minds and bodies.

"Walk the Walk" is an exercise program in which administrators, teachers and other staff record the miles they’ve walked, benefiting not only themselves through improved health but also, possibly, benefiting their school financially.

Established by Educators Mutual Insurance Association, a non-profit health insurance company, the goal is to inspire educators and administrators to stay healthy. But as if health isn’t incentive enough, during the Month of March, four grand-prize winners who log the most miles of elementary school staffs in the state, will win $500 for their classrooms or school, and overnight accommodations at a spa. Participants are given pedometers to record mileage. Nearly one-third of Utah’s elementary schools are participating.

Martha Crook, the principal of Trailside Elementary, encourages exercise among her staff. Besides having a workout room with donated equipment, a yoga class is held once a week, and good nutrition is stressed. "I’ve talked to teachers, and their days go better," Crook said.

"If you are healthy, it is much more likely you will be happy," said Crook. "Teachers are more productive." Not only will the staff be healthier, but Crook also sites the financial aspect in these times of district budget cuts. "For every dollar you spend on health," she said, "you save three to four dollars."

For those who want a change of scenery, "Walk the Walk," could be the ticket to health. She said about half of the Trailside staff is participating in "Walk the Walk." Even students are beginning to log miles in addition to their PE classes twice per week.

Not to be left behind in activity, Crook said she logs about 10,000 steps per day, which translates to about five miles.

While the competition lasts only one month, the hope is that participants will continue, especially with warming weather. Crook said that if students see the adults around them involved in activities, they will likely get more involved.

Crook spoke of heart disease, saying that it is often considered a men’s disease, it now impacts more women than breast cancer does.

According to Educators Mutual, last year’s inaugural "Walk the Walk" involved more than 600 teachers and administrators from 150 elementary schools throughout Utah. Participants recorded more than 75 million steps or 37,816 miles, and collectively burned more than 1,000 pounds of fat.

Park City has a reputation as being a community made up of health-conscious people, and "Walk the Walk" may be just what the doctor ordered to keep that community attitude, and more importantly, health, in the schools.

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