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Chris Swank and his wife, Lt. Cmdr. Margaret Swank, join their daughters Rebecca, left, and Krista for a little quality time at the playground Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Age-appropriate family recreation provides both exercise and fun for families, officials say — exactly the aim of Navy Family Health and Wellness Week, April 7-13.
Chris Swank and his wife, Lt. Cmdr. Margaret Swank, join their daughters Rebecca, left, and Krista for a little quality time at the playground Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Age-appropriate family recreation provides both exercise and fun for families, officials say — exactly the aim of Navy Family Health and Wellness Week, April 7-13. (Chris Fowler / S&S)
Chris Swank and his wife, Lt. Cmdr. Margaret Swank, join their daughters Rebecca, left, and Krista for a little quality time at the playground Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Age-appropriate family recreation provides both exercise and fun for families, officials say — exactly the aim of Navy Family Health and Wellness Week, April 7-13.
Chris Swank and his wife, Lt. Cmdr. Margaret Swank, join their daughters Rebecca, left, and Krista for a little quality time at the playground Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Age-appropriate family recreation provides both exercise and fun for families, officials say — exactly the aim of Navy Family Health and Wellness Week, April 7-13. (Chris Fowler / S&S)
Abby Mimirack, a batter for the Yokosuka Gators — the MWR department's 9-11-year-old girls softball league — prepares to swing at the ball while Head Coach Rod Malloy reminds her to keep her eye on the ball Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
Abby Mimirack, a batter for the Yokosuka Gators — the MWR department's 9-11-year-old girls softball league — prepares to swing at the ball while Head Coach Rod Malloy reminds her to keep her eye on the ball Monday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. (Chris Fowler / S&S)
Master Zumba instructors Jani Roberts (front left) and Rebecca Lee, with back to camera, lead a class of MWR fitness instructors through an aerobic dance routine last week at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. The class spent a high-energy hour following along to Latin-inspired dance steps.
Master Zumba instructors Jani Roberts (front left) and Rebecca Lee, with back to camera, lead a class of MWR fitness instructors through an aerobic dance routine last week at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. The class spent a high-energy hour following along to Latin-inspired dance steps. (Chris Fowler / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — During the weekends, the Ikego Housing Area playgrounds sound like an elementary-school version of the running of the bulls.

And sitting on benches, ever-watchful parents, like gentle goaltenders, keep escaping balls, Frisbees and children in the game.

That is exactly the kind of healthy entertainment and family fun Morale, Welfare and Recreation departments in the Pacific are promoting during Navy Family Health and Wellness Week, April 7-13.

From a family paintball tournament at Sasebo Naval Base and free family bowling at Yokosuka, to Fitness Center Introduction Day on Okinawa and healthy food options at Chinhae Naval Base in South Korea, the week is designed to highlight the benefits of a healthy family lifestyle.

According to Yokosuka MWR Fitness Director Glenn Preston, the healthy lifestyle starts with the parents, from both a genetic and cultural standpoint.

“If both parents are obese, then their child has upward of an 80 percent chance of becoming obese as well,” Preston said. But, he added: “If children see their parents leading an active lifestyle, they will tend to also be more active.”

Experts in the field of child development and education have long recognized the positive impact a family’s involvement can have on keeping the elements of fun and excitement tied to the elements of health and exercise.

The idea is if you can take the “work” out of workout, everyone benefits.

According to Yokosuka Middle School physical education teacher Rob Garcia, a physically active lifestyle has a wide range of benefits, including prevention of obesity and enhancing self-esteem.

But because Garcia works with children, he also recognizes that video games and television compete for time, and an activity must appeal to a child’s sense of fun.

Garcia’s ideology is centered on the idea of “lifetime fitness.”

“It is important to understand ways to help children become more physically active and less sedentary,” he said. “An active lifestyle is something that can last a lifetime.”

Navy spouse Jennifer Thrall agrees.

“I have two daughters, and I always tell them that they need something for the body, and something for the mind,” Thrall said. “They participate in sports for the body and the Girl Scouts for the mind.”

With health, happiness, intelligence and self-confidence at the top of any parent’s wish list for his or her child, an active lifestyle may be the closet thing to a magic bullet. Research is beginning to substantiate a link between physical activity and academic achievement.

A recent American College of Sports Medicine study said “the students who performed better academically … were the most active, meaning those who participated in a sport or other vigorous activity at least three times a week.”

More info ...

For more information on Navy Family Health & Wellness Week activities planned on Pacific bases, contact the following (all numbers DSN):

Atsugi Naval Air FacilityITT: Al Maige, 264-3786Health & Wellness: Leigh Wierichs, 264-6163Bowling: Brett Dunn, 264-3790Aquatics: Jack Garton, 264-6165Rec Center (Corner Pocket): Jon Remmer, 264-3782Outdoor Rec: Terry Williams, 264-6205Single Sailor: Keith Reynolds, 264-3782Golf: Ron Nichols, 264-6749

Sasebo Naval BasePam Law: 252-3588 or pamela.law@sasebo.navy.mil

Yokosuka Naval BaseDebbie Deutsch: 241-4486 or deutsch.debbie@cfay.navy.mil

Chinhae Naval Base, South KoreaGary Larose, MWR director — DSN 762-5221 or larose@cfac.cnfk.navy.mil

U.S. Naval Base GuamSara W. Merwin, MWR Fitness Coordinator — DSN 671-339-1301 or sara.merwin@guam.navy.mil

OkinawaJames Watkins or james.watkins@cfao.navy.mil

— Chris Fowler

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