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Fitness Anywhere is a program dedicated to developing healthier lifestyles in all children, even those who may be limited by income, safety concerns, time constraints, long commutes or weather. It is a partnership between the Duke American Medical Association Student Section and the non-profit Fitness Forward. The core element of the program is disseminating basic information about healthy lifestyles, and facilitating physical activity. The FitJUMP! component of this program seeks to encourage jump roping as physical activity that is inexpensive and can be enjoyed in any location.

Goals of FitJUMP!:
1. Educate patients and parents about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle.
2. Provide the instruction and equipment for physical activity that can be conducted anywhere.
3. Encourage patients to maintain a regular schedule of physical activity and to take responsibility for their well-being.

FitJUMP! is a partnership between primary care providers and student volunteers. The primary care provider identifies children with a BMI in the 85th percentile or higher; where resources permit, all children should be engaged in the program. Students meet with these patients while they are in the office for a routine physical. They distribute jump ropes and instruction booklets, discuss with the patients the benefits of physical activity, practice jumping rope with the patient, and teach them to keep a log of their activity. Ideally, students track patients and meet with them again at another visit, or, if permission is given, call the patient at home to record progress and encourage continuation.

Medical and pre-medical students are trained prior to their involvement. Training is conducted by medical students, under the guidance of faculty mentors and the primary care physicians that participate. The instruction booklets, both electronic and paper versions, will contain advice for physical activity, such as how long to jump, what to wear, different jumping techniques, tips for making jumping rope more enjoyable, and more.

This program can also be used to earn points for the Coach K Drive to Fitness, another program that will pilot in Durham Public Schools in September 2004, and encourage elementary students, parents and teachers to be active, sleep well, watch less TV and drink healthy beverages. There is potential for giving small rewards such as water bottles, which are requested as donations from local businesses.

The Fitness Anywhere concept extends beyond just jump roping, which may not be an ideal form of physical activity for all children. The general goal is to help children and parents learn about simple, yet consistently fun ways to stay active regularly, in any setting, regardless of barriers to physical activity. We are also developing a set of ‘body circuits’ for children called PediAerobics—a combination of calisthenics and stretching put to different types of music which can also be done in the safety of one’s home, free of charge. AutoAerobics is being developed to help children stretch and learn about their muscles using resistance techniques, during long car rides and commutes to school.

There is already significant data that indicates that physical activity, including jump roping specifically, increases self-esteem of children. In addition, the success of Reach Out and Read and smoking cessation programs led by physicians indicate the value of having doctors recommend certain behaviors to patients and/or their parents. Try FitJUMP! in your practice; we hope that it will make a valuable difference.

E-mail us with questions: alison.troy@duke.edu or info@fitnessforward.org


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