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 City P.E. Program Sees Payoffs


KVUE's Mari Alvarez reports 10/29/2008

Three years ago, Austin Mayor Will Wynn launched city P.E. classes as part of his plan to make Austin the fittest city in America.

Sandra Guerra's has been a student in this class for the past three years.

"I've lost a total of about 50 pounds. My cholesterol has gone down, my knees don't hurt, my back doesn't hurt," said Guerra.

Right now, 650 of the city's 11,000 employees take part in the program, which began in 2005.

A running class costs an average of $10 a person for a 12 week course.

The students' dedication seems to be paying off -- 64 percent of participants have seen there "good" cholesterol levels increase, blood sugar readings have decreased and exercisers -- on average -- take two fewer hours of sick leave.

Costs for the program is relatively low.

Facilities are donated at no cost, including several pools around town and Auditorium Shores. Taxpayers pay for the trainers, exercise T-shirts and race fees.

Participants can sign up for two 5K runs a year.

"it's really a value back to the citizens of Austin that our employees come to work happy and healthy everyday and are able to be more productive and efficient in their jobs," said Sheree Bailey, director of the P.E. program.

Austin taxpayers who spoke to KVUE News didn't have any problems supporting the classes.

"If employers could get in on giving people time to do it, I think it would be a great thing," said MacArthur Carter.

"You probably have a better employee than someone who's stuck at their desk all day long, not getting any exercise and is just kind of tired and lethargic," added Kristen Harrington.

The P.E. classes are held in the mornings and during lunch hours. Employees are simply encouraged to join. They're not required to meet any kind of weight loss or training goals.

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