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Spirit of Fitness

With the Olympic torch lighting up Turin, Italy for the 2006 Winter Games this month, many of us turn our attention to national pride and the spirit of competition. Probably the oldest of all instincts, the competitive spirit is responsible for many of our historical achievements as a civilization resulting from our push to create, advance, and stand out.

In ancient Greece, the emphasis on athletic achievement through public competition was related to the Greek ideal of excellence. Aristocratic men who attained this ideal, through their outstanding words or deeds, won permanent glory and fame. The Olympic ideals sportsmanship, values, fair play, and peaceful competition are alive in today's Olympic movement and in every offshoot of the original games.

Though we may not all be Olympic hopefuls, chances are that, with a little challenge, we can awaken that spirit of competition inside ourselves. The goal: to reach a level of fitness and well-being that will allow us to achieve our personal best. It may not be fame and glory, and probably won't earn you money or even a shiny gold medal, but that personal best will put you in the race for a healthy and happy life.

Valentine Calorie Calculator

Have you ever wondered how many calories you burn going through the rigours of  Valentine's Day? Here are a few that will allow you to eat chocolate accordingly:

Dancing: 2.8 calories per minute
Running (to the flower shop before it closes): 10 calories per minute
Intimate relations: Somewhere in-between
Chocolate (dark or milk): 25 grams contributes 130 calories.

School Kids and Exercise

Does regular exercise improve children's performance in school? This question has become quite pertinent in recent years, with the steady erosion of the quality and quantity of physical education in schools.

A study published in the August 2005 Journal of School Health set out to see what evidence supports the connection between regular exercise and school performance. The study, which reviewed 14 papers published over the past 21 years, indicates that keeping children physically active offers clear and quantifiable benefits. The literature review showed that active children tend to have greater social skills. Exercise also reduces risk-taking behaviour.

Although researchers indicated a strong relationship could not be drawn between activity and academic performance, concentration levels among students definitely improved. Better behaved and more focused kids in the classroom were the results. That sounds like true physical education.

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