ANSON — Thirteen-year-old Tyler Reichert, of New Portland, already knows what it takes to be a dedicated athlete.

As part of the Cobra Power weightlifting and conditioning program at Carrabec High School, he starts training at 5:30 a.m. three times per week before his eighth-grade classes down the street at Carrabec Community School.

Physical education teacher Judi Dunphy doesn’t worry about the ambition of students such as Reichert. What she does worry about, however, is the lack of opportunities youth will have to exercise when they eventually graduate.

Because it’s harder later in life to join a basketball, softball or soccer team, she said, she wants students to prepare themselves now for fun exercises they can do for a long time.

That’s why, with the help of about $22,000 in grant money this year and last year, the physical education programs at the junior high and high school level have changed. Students still learn how to play sports such as basketball and soccer, but they also learn how to skateboard, snowshoe and do indoor cycling.

“We’re trying to move away from traditional sports and towards lifetime fitness activities,” Dunphy said.

The initiative called Less Screen More Lean is funded by grants from the Perloff Family Foundation, Bangor Savings Bank and the Move More Kids Program, which is supported by the New Balance Foundation and Greater Somerset Public Health Collaborative.

With the money, the schools bought skateboards and safety gear for grades six through 12, 24 sets of snowshoes for grades six through eight, and 16 stationary bicycles for all high school students and junior high students in a wellness elective class.

The grants also paid for the district’s three physical education and health teachers — Dunphy, Kirk Robinson and Jack Kaplan — to become certified skateboard and indoor cycling instructors; and they provided for 24 heart rate monitors, which are used in combination with the bicycles.

School Administrative District 74 is “just trying to give kids more options, because not all kids want to play basketball or baseball,” Dunphy said.

She said giving students exercises they can do with simple equipment or at a gymnasium hopefully will mean they exercise more. Youths should spend less than two hours per day with screens, which includes television, computers and cellphones; but many young people spend up to seven hours per day on non-educational screen time, Dunphy said.

Teaching students how to use the heart rate monitors is also important, Dunphy said, because then they know how to get the most benefit from their training. If people are aiming for aerobic endurance, they should be exercising at 75 percent to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate, she said.

Reichert said he enjoys skateboarding, snowshoeing and cycling. “It’s fun, and it’s just a good change from our normal routine,” he said.

He said he’s looking forward to snowshoeing in particular.

“It’s just another chance to get outside during the day,” he said.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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