VERMONT What gives kids power on cold winter days? Moving more, eating a lot of colors and turning off electronics! Kids who are active and eat a variety of nutritious foods throughout the year tend to remain fit and healthy into adulthood. Those who try new physical fitness activities find sports they enjoy and will stick with. These are the ideas behind Stretch Your Limits, a program of the Vermont Governors Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Governor Jim Douglas challenges young Vermonters to Stretch Your Limits this winter by trying a new sport or physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables and turning off the computer and television. Kids are asked track their efforts to Move More, Eat More Colors and Turn It Off and then send a log of their activities to Governor Douglas. Kids who do so by March 15 will receive an award and a chance to meet the Governor for personal congratulations. Starting early in life to enjoy being active and eating a variety of foods leads to a healthy lifestyle that stays with people as they grow older. The result is a happier and healthier person, said Suzanne Kelley, Physical Activity Coordinator for Vermont Department of Health. She helped develop the idea for the Stretch Your Limits challenge in collaboration with the Governors Council. The council promotes increased physical activity among Vermonters of all ages. Young people, in particular, have become increasingly sedentary and overweight. School-aged children should be active at least one hour a day, every day. But in Vermont, only 27 percent of students are getting that much exercise, said Kelley. We know that children who exercise regularly do better in school and have fewer health problems as they age. Governor Douglas has made comprehensive health care reform and improving the health of Vermonters a central component of his plan to reduce health care costs. He has said that Vermonters must tackle the root causes of rising health care costs, and encourage healthy decisions and preventative care. Venturing out for activity and exercise on a cold day requires motivation and the ability to think creatively about exercise. Sledding, winter hiking, ice skating, making snow angels and shoveling driveways are fun and easy ways to be active outdoors. Indoor activities may include basketball, dancing, tumbling or yoga at a community fitness center. Find a Stretch Your Limits form at
. Learn how to be a fit and healthy kid at
. The website has videos and pictures that encourage kids to get up and go and links to Vermont ski areas and recreation facilities. When kids make each day active, colorful and fun, they gain power and motivation to stay fit and healthy for life.