Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quinn signs law to enhance physical education in Illinois schools

WLS-AM: August 25, 2012

CHICAGO (WLS) - A new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn Saturday is intended to enhance physical education in Illinois schools. Additionally, the governor, who led a group of walkers on a half-mile trek through Oak Park, continued to urge Illinois residents to take the “Walk Across Illinois Challenge,” a program the governor launched to improve the health and fitness of Illinoisans.

“Today we want to encourage people to be fit, be healthy and walk across Illinois,” Quinn said. “This new law is another step in the right direction to help the citizens of Illinois improve their health and wellness.”

Senate Bill 3374, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Plainfield) and Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Rock Falls), creates the Enhance Physical Education Task Force to examine existing physical education strategies and programs, assess the impact of physical education, and identify and leverage local, state and federal resources for physical education, a release from Quinn’s office said. An initiative of the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the bill was supported by major teachers’ and school organizations, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association and other health advocates. The law is effective immediately.

“This law helps us take a serious look at the positive impact PE has on students. It benefits them both physically and mentally. Studies show that physical activity increases the ability to concentrate and improves cognitive function. There is a connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind,” Holmes said.

“As a former coach and physical education teacher, I know first-hand the value of physical fitness,” Mitchell said. “This Task Force will help put Illinois schoolchildren on the right path.”

The new Task Force will collaborate with the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness, which was created in January to develop practical ideas to help Illinois residents embrace healthier lifestyles.

Originally launched by Quinn when he was Lieutenant Governor, “Walk Across Illinois” is an interactive program which encourages participants to walk 167 miles in a single year, roughly the distance across Illinois from Rock Island on the Mississippi River to Chicago on Lake Michigan.

Residents wishing to take the “Walk Across Illinois Challenge” may visit, where they can register, log their mileage, learn about hiking routes and get helpful tips. A chart enables you to convert other activities to mileage, such as 30 minutes of bowling or 20 minutes of lawn-mowing being equivalent to one mile.

Once a walker has reached 167 miles, they will receive a certificate from the governor. Illinois has approximately 270 hiking trails, 63 miles of walkable Lake Michigan shoreline, thousands of miles of riverfront paths and countless neighborhood walks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Study Finds Snack, Soda Regulations In Schools Help Kids' Health

Published: August 13, 2012 by Eliza Barclay

Lately, parents, teachers and policymakers have been experimenting with all kinds of different ways to keep unhealthy food out of schools. Some schools are limiting bake sales, as we reported earlier this year, while others are preparing lunches from scratch. Since a lot of these policies are new, it's often hard to tell which ones will be most effective at reversing childhood obesity rates.

But research published online today in the journal Pediatrics suggests that laws implemented a decade ago to restrict snack and drink sales outside of school lunch programs are working to keep kids from gaining extra pounds they don't need.

The study, lead by Daniel Taber, a health policy expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, looked at kids in fifth through eighth grade from 40 states between 2003 and 2006. The researchers compared changes in body mass index and obesity status in 11 states with strict laws on food sold in schools with similar data from 29 states without such laws.

Overall, they found that the kids in states with detailed nutrition standards were less likely to remain overweight or obese than kids in states without the laws. And they said that kids were more likely to avoid unwanted weight gain if the laws at their elementary schools were reinforced at higher grade levels.

"We went in wanting to see if stronger laws have a big impact, and what emerged was how important it is for these laws to be consistent over time across grade levels," Taber tells Shots. "And the good news is that the trend [nationwide] is that these laws are become stronger over time."

The most effective laws have very specific guidelines for food sold in vending machines, a la carte in the cafeteria, or at campus stores, the researchers say.

The researchers caution that their analysis doesn't prove that the laws cause kids to lose weight. But they note that they controlled for many factors, like income and race, to tease out the impact of the laws on kids' health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also a supporter of NPR, funded the study. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]  For the original article link, please click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

IAPO Physical Activity WG Announcement: Upcoming Webinar - Enhanced PE

Please join the upcoming webinar: Exercise Your Mind: Collaborating to Enhance Physical Education in Illinois Schools! This webinar will take place on Friday, August 17 @ 1pm. A flyer for the webinar, including a description and learning objectives, is attached. We appreciate your help in sharing this opportunity with school officials, school boards, community coalitions, teachers, students, health departments and other local partners! You can also share this link with your partners:

In partnership with Healthy Schools Campaign and Illinois State Board of Education, 1.5 CPDU Recertification Credit (Continuing Professional Development Unit) will be awarded for attendance at this webinar. Attendance will be verified through webinar host, and attendance records will be maintained. Standard Evaluation and Evidence of Completion forms (ISBE 77-21) will be provided to participants who complete the activity.