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FitFamily program promotes healthy lifestyles

Kristina Urban, 10, cooks the beef while her brother, Paul, 6, shreds lettuce for dinner, March 17, 2010, at at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Once a week, Kristina and Paul are allowed to prepare a meal for "family cook night" under their parents' supervision. Families learn to make nutritious food choices with FitFamily. Kristina and Paul are the children of Carol and Tech. Sgt. Lou Urban. Sergeant Urban is currently deployed from the 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Kristina Urban, 10, cooks the beef while her brother, Paul, 6, shreds lettuce for dinner, March 17, 2010, at at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Once a week, Kristina and Paul are allowed to prepare a meal for "family cook night" under their parents' supervision. Families learn to make nutritious food choices with FitFamily. Kristina and Paul are the children of Carol and Tech. Sgt. Lou Urban. Sergeant Urban is currently deployed from the 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- Air Force officials launched FitFamily Jan. 30 to encourage and reward children and adults for leading an active lifestyle.

The program is designed to increase fitness levels and supplements the Air Force's youth fitness program, FitFactor.

"FitFamily promotes the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and encourages Air Force families to be active together," said Derrick Ross, the FitFactor coordinator at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

With the addition of FitFamily, Mr. Ross will now manage both programs here because they build off of one another, he said.

Mr. Ross' job is to get the kids out and active for 60 minutes a day and also to encourage parents to be active for 30 minutes a day.

"If children see their parents do it, then the children want to do it," Mr. Ross said. "Children have the tendency to imitate what their parents do."

Since 2005, the Air Force has been successful with the youth fitness and health initiative. More than 60,000 youth have participated in the Web-based program, said David Brittain, youth development specialist for the program at the Pentagon.

"In keeping with the Year of the Air Force Family, Air Force leadership felt it would be a great opportunity to build upon the success of FitFactor and get families involved and active together," Mr. Brittain said.

FitFamily's focus is on the entire family and the slogan sums up the mission: "Get up, get out and get fit together."

"Healthy habits start early and can last a lifetime," Mr. Brittain said. "It's important that parents play an intricate role in forming their children's habits and they can help themselves in the process by being active together."

More than 2,000 families -- more than 7,200 total members -- are currently participating in the FitFamily program.

Tech. Sgt. Lou Urban, currently deployed from the 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron, and his wife, Carol, signed up shortly after the program launched and have noticed that their children request to do activities, cook together as a family and learn about nutrition.

"A program to get families up and doing things together is invaluable," Mrs. Urban said. "We participate in activities together, and it gives everyone an individual goal also."

Because the program is Internet-based, it can be used anywhere.

Anne Jennings, a health fitness specialist at the JB Langley Health and Wellness Center, said her office shares a goal with FitFamily, and that is creating healthy habits.

"Being active should be as simple as brushing your teeth every day," Ms. Jennings said. "It should be something that we incorporate daily."

To help families stay in line with their goals, the HAWC provides classes on weight management where members can receive tips on staying fit. Several nutrition classes are also.

Families can enroll in the program by logging on to http://www.USAFFitFamily.com. Once registered, participants will receive fitness tips, learn about nutrition and have access to recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. The FitFamily Web page also has a list of activities, tracking tools for goals and allows photo submissions of family activity to share with others.

The program is open to family members of active-duty, Guard and Reserve members; Department of Defense civilians; retired military members; honorably discharged veterans with 100 percent service-connected disability; and former or surviving military spouses and their family members.

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