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Orange County Focus

MISSION VIEJO : Class Exercise to Help Heart Association

March 07, 1994

More than 700 students at La Paz Intermediate School will be putting their legs, lungs, arms and stomach muscles through their paces this week as they prepare for a national fitness test and raise money for the American Heart Assn.

On Tuesday, students will be doing sit-ups and pull-ups at the school on Pradera Drive, and on Thursday they will run a mile. Students have been taking pledges, and the more exercises they do and the faster they run, the more money they will raise.

Although the AHA has held such "fitness challenges" before, this is the first time it has been brought to an Orange County school, said the organization's spokeswoman, Liz Lin.

Lin said educating children about exercise and fitness has become more important as studies have found that the young are becoming more sedentary.

"Since 1966, there's been a 54% increase in the prevalence of obesity in children 6 to 11," Lin said. "We want to start with the kids in the areas of awareness and prevention."

The exercises also are among those the children will be performing for the President's Fitness Test in coming weeks.

If the school is able to raise more than $500, it will receive gift certificates for 10% of the amount collected to buy physical education equipment.

Ruth Lander, La Paz Intermediate's principal, said she is confident of a strong showing among her seventh- and eighth-grade students, who work on physical fitness and play team sports in classes each day.

"We actively prepare for the President's Fitness Test anyway," Lander said. "So getting ready for the fitness challenge wasn't difficult."

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