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Kids Step to Fitness With Pedometers

Thousands of local students are receiving pedometers to help them keep track of their physical activity, set goals and stay fit. The small stop-watch-like gadget is worn on the belt to count the number of steps taken daily. The school district's health and physical education office has distributed more than 18,000 of the devices to schools, with another 24,000 coming soon. The distribution will reach all middle and high school students. The pedometers come with lessons on nutrition and exercise in P.E. classes, said Joan Van Blom, health and P.E. curriculum leader. "What I'd really like students to do is examine that bag of Cheetos, count the calories, then count the number of steps they'd have to take to burn those calories," Van Blom said. "The idea is not to grade students on how far they go. We want students to self-report accurately and plan how to improve." As part of a $1 million Nutrition and Physical Activity Grant from the U.S. Depart-ment of Education, the pedometers have the imprint, "Eat 5 A Day And Be Active," encouraging consumption of five fruit and vegetable servings each day. The exercise goal is to reach 10,000 steps each day. Depending on one's stride length, that's about four miles.