Second-Graders Show Grown-Ups How to Make Fitness Fun

Ranchwood Elementary second-graders hoop to healthify

YUKON, Okla. – Monday morning, the playground at Ranchwood Elementary was spinning. Twenty second-graders in Miss Shelton’s physical education class hit the hula hoops to show adults that fitness can be fun.

“The way kids play should be an example to us adults,” said Ranchwood Elementary physical education teacher Amber Shelton. “We don’t have to slave away at the gym, if we don’t enjoy it. We just need to look for physical activities we enjoy – and do them!”

The kiddos tried hula hooping around their necks, arms and legs, played human ring toss and had a good old fashioned hula hoop contest.

Mercy donated 80 hula hoops to the P.E. class, with hopes of inspiring the kids to continue hula hooping throughout the summer, and in anticipation of National Employee Health and Fitness Day, May 16, when Mercy co-workers across four states will have their own hula hooping fun.

“Here in Oklahoma City, we’re inviting our co-workers to participate in a hula hoop obstacle course, giant ring toss, hula hoop contest and hula javelin throw next Wednesday,” said Jaime Hargus, wellness coordinator. “Hula hooping actually uses more muscles than you think, and it’s a lot of fun to try after all these years.”

Starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 16, Mercy Health Center co-workers will meet under a big tent on the northwest lawn of the hospital to participate in the hula hoop activities, which organizers have dubbed, “Hoopin’ to Healthify.”

“As a culture, it has completely dropped out of our brains that exercise can be fun. We have forgotten how important it is to have recess as adults,” said Dr. Lance Luria, Mercy health and wellness vice president and medical director. “We make sure to break out our long to-do lists every day but we forget to exercise and eat healthy. Without balance in our lives, everything gets out of whack and we become very unhealthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

In an effort to bring back balance and have fun, Mercy co-workers will pick up hula hoops and get moving as they are “Hoopin’ to Healthify.” Nurses, doctors, surgeons, administrators and staff across Mercy’s four states will take part in hula-hoop obstacle courses, javelin throws, giant ring tosses and traditional hula hooping contests at the Olympic-like festivities. (Last year, co-workers did 1.3 million jumping jacks across Mercy for national fitness day.)

To get everyone hoopin’, Rapper M.C. Spookytooth created a toe-tapping music video with Mercy co-workers hoopin’ to the beat.

“The message is simple: get to hoopin’ or moving. Find something you like and make it a part of your routine whether it’s rock climbing, swimming, biking, bowling or running,” said Dr. Luria. “You only have one life to live, so live it to the fullest. Make every day count.”

Healthification, Mercy’s wellness program, is designed to encourage well-balanced, healthy lifestyles through nutrition, physical activity, emotional and spiritual wellness, and smoking cessation.

According to the American Council on Exercise, although hula hooping is a low-impact workout, it’s possible to burn 200 calories in a 30-minute session. More reasons to pick up a hula hoop include:

  • It improves flexibility and balance, which reduces chances of injury in daily activities.
  • It’s a lot more fun than sit-ups or side-bends and still tones the midsection.
  • Regardless of a person’s level of fitness, it’s a challenging technique with real benefits.

“As health care providers, we have a responsibility to model healthy lifestyle choices for a nation that is sedentary,” said Dr. Luria. “We must measure up to the same expectations we teach our patients and our communities.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over the next six years the nation’s rate of obesity will continue to grow at an alarming rate.

“We’re tipping the scales,” said Lynn Britton, president and CEO of Mercy. “Many of the states Mercy serves lead the nation in obesity. Sadly, our country’s youth are following in those footsteps. Through healthification and awareness, Mercy’s goal is to reverse the trend.”

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Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.

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