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Cmdr. Reggie Howard, performs the curl-up portion of the Navy's semi-annual Physical Fitness Assessment held aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella. This summer, Navy Region Europe kicked off "Family Fitness," a new program that gets the entire family involved in physical fitness and healthy lifestyle practices.

Cmdr. Reggie Howard, performs the curl-up portion of the Navy's semi-annual Physical Fitness Assessment held aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella. This summer, Navy Region Europe kicked off "Family Fitness," a new program that gets the entire family involved in physical fitness and healthy lifestyle practices. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Sicily — A fit family makes for a fit sailor.

That’s the thinking behind Navy Region Europe’s new program to get families involved in physical fitness and healthy lifestyle practices.

“It’s easier for a sailor whose family is in shape to stay in shape,” said Zee Herb, fitness director at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. “This is a program for the whole Navy family.”

Not to mention a healthy family costs the Navy less when it comes to health care treatment, Herb said, referring to costs associated with treating diabetes and heart and lung problems associated with obese people or those who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.

“At the rate we’re going [in the United States], 75 percent of the next adult generation will be obese or overweight,” Herb said.

All Morale, Welfare and Recreational programs at Navy bases throughout Europe kicked off the Family Fitness program this summer. The program requires families to sign up for a “passport” to log the families’ healthy living activities for a two-month period.

Those who sign up must complete five events as a family. Then, each family member is required to complete 16 20-minute sessions on his or her own — which can range from baseball camp for the kids to an intramural softball game. By Aug. 17, families turn in the passports for a grand prize drawing — with a prize yet to be determined — that takes place Aug. 28.

“The number one [contributor] to American obesity is television, and it’s the number one factor for childhood obesity,” Herb said.

Program participants are given suggestions for improving lifestyle — such as turning off the television for a bit and walking the dog as a family, she said.

Sigonella also partnered with other base programs to promote healthy lifestyles, such as Health Promotions, which teaches people such things as how to shop for healthier alternatives to fatty foods and how to take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables sold at Italian markets.

The base also has introduced several programs that are kid-friendly — so spouses can bring their little ones. There’s a stroller fitness course, child play areas in the gyms, and even programs for young people such as breakdancing and hip-hop dance classes, said Lorie Warchol, MWR Sigonella’s marketing director.

“Just focusing on the sailor alone is no longer enough,” she said.

Families who sign up are added to the MWR fitness program’s e-mail distribution list to get updates on programs that would help them complete the family fitness passport requirements.

People can sign up at any of the Navy bases’ MWR fitness facilities.


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