Two families promote regular exercise
History's first recorded long distance runner was a Greek named Pheidoppides who worked as a professional running courier. Around 490 BC, he was gainfully employed to run from the town of Marathon to bring word to the city of Athens of a recent victory in the field of battle. After the good news was delivered, the bad news was the runner dropped dead. From that day forward, skeptics have used that story to proclaim the dangers of exercise.
Most believe that old story to be unfounded proof in the world of running, especially when it comes to children. Fact is; exercise contributes to stronger muscles and bones with leaner bodies that are less likely to become overweight. Exercise also decreases the risk of developing type II diabetes. There is also proof that kids who are active, not only sleep better, but are better prepared to handle the physical and emotional challenges of life. Finally, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all the cells. Which is why sisters Christina Terry, and Glendoria Armentrout united together to incorporate an exercise program for both of their families.
"We have always believed in the benefits of exercise," said Terry. "When our children became old enough to participate in our outdoor exercise, my husband and I made it a family event. We now ride bikes, and run together, while shying away from activities that promote a sedentary lifestyle. We use exercise as a time to focus on the value of family communication, and sharing more structured time together. This isn't something our children are forced to do, they actually enjoy it."
The three Terry children are regular participants in organized runs around the Tri-State. Some of the more recent area races they have participated in were Huntington's Jingle Bell Run, the Drumstick Dash, the Run Run Rudolph, and a 5K event in Hurricane. There is 10-year-old Kaitlyn, 8-year-old Kierstyn, and 6-year-old Elijah. All three were participants in the last kids triathlon at Beech Fork. While the Terry children have their share of awards and ribbons; they consider the activity of running together as a family something that is challenging, and fun to do. The fact that it just happens to promotes a healthy lifestyle is of little importance to them -- now.
The mindset for seven year-old Chloe Armentrout is a little different. She has aspirations of becoming a member of the U.S. Marathon team in 13 years.
"Chloe has a bookcase in her room that's full of trophies and ribbons," said her mother. "She seems to always be full of energy, and running just releases that energy in a very natural way. We also have our own bikes, and often both of our families will ride together at Ritter Park and Beech Fork. For now, our two toddles, Aleah, and Phillip, enjoy the luxury of exercise from the seat of a special stroller."
Both sisters agree that exercise and diet go hand in hand. This means that junk food as the world knows it, has little tolerance among their children. This is not to say it's completely eliminated, it means there are plenty of healthy alternatives around the kitchen when it comes to snacks.
There are a couple of interesting stories associated with the Terry family. First, there is husband Clint, who has lost 90 pounds during the last 18 months.
"When I weighted 335, I had terrible back pain," said Clint. "I refused to take the prescribed medicine, and just lived with the pain. Exercise became my elixir. I'm not a speedster, I'm a finisher when it comes to races, which is good enough for me. I now look forward to organized races as something to train for and stay active. My back pain is now less of a problem."
At the time this article was written, Clint was training for the 15 mile run at Kanawha State Forest that occurred earlier this month. The good news is - he finished the race.
The other story is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Clint's wife Christina, crashed her bicycle in July 2010. Her injuries were so extensive that she should still be getting around in a motorized chair. She suffered a broken back, punctured lung, and five broken ribs. She has made a miraculous recovery.
"One thing about that accident," said Christina, "It made a believer of me about the benefits of wearing a helmet. I keep that ole helmet around as a reminder of the protection it provided me. It was cracked in eight different places during my accident. If I were not wearing it, I would not be here today. I had five vertebra fused together, and a lot of physical therapy following that accident."
Yes, the kids in these two families have TV time, but it's limited. Homework has priority. Soda pop is out, and junk food is also limited. Sweet tea and water are the preferred drinks.
While it's a given that much of the kids motivation for running took roots within these two families, there is also Ms. Law, the Physical Education instructor at Ona elementary. She has long been a known advocate for the benefits of exercise. In fact, this teacher even keeps a current monthly bulletin board listing of area race events for the school kids to see. She also makes public the accumulated miles that each student accumulates on the school track. As students reach certain mileage plateaus, their achievements are posted in the hallway.
Asking the three Terry children about their participation in the last kids Beech Fork triathlon provided some interesting replies.
"You shouldn't worry about us kids swimming at Beech Fork," said 6-year-old Elijah. "Our dad took us for swimming lessons, we've been trained." Elijah also admitted that his sisters were faster, but that was only because that were older and bigger.
"It was raining real bad the day of the Beech Fork race," said 10-year-old Kaitlyn. "That explains why I was covered up with mud that day."
Seven-year-old Chloe Armentrout said she runs because she really enjoys it. "I really do," she said. "I also feel pretty darn proud when I cross the finish line. I keep a close eye on that bulletin board at school too."
You have to admit, when a group of kids who are 10 and under go out to eat, and when they are asked what they want to drink, they respond with: "orange Juice." It does make you think there really is more to a healthy life style that just running.
Clyde Beal is an area freelance writer still waiting to hear about the "world's best trained family pet." Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.