15 principals take on the My Heart Challenge

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SALT LAKE CITY - Fifteen Salt Lake Valley principals are competing for prizes while improving their health as part of this year's My Heart Challenge, which kicked off on Thursday.

The competitors are working with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute to create healthy heart habits.

"Cardiovascular health is really at the foundation throughout our entire life of how well we live and how long we live. And it's really critical that we pay attention to many things that we can do to maintain that wellness," said Dr. Donald Lappe with the Intermountain Heart Institute.

Lappe says that the three-month challenge is a way for principals to emphasize the importance of wellness and exercise to their students.

Each of the fifteen principals will attend weekly nutrition and exercise classes designed to help them achieve optimum heart health.

"The lifestyle of a principal is very difficult. We don't have a lot of control over our time and this is an opportunity to learn how to improve my health but also to take charge and use the times that I do have to be productive and to make a change and strengthen my health," said Canyon View Elementary Principal Brent Shaw.

As the principals eat healthy, exercise and plan activities for their school, they earn prizes to be handed out after the challenge is over. But they say the biggest reward is the health results and the example to kids.

"When I was younger I didn't have a computer at my disposal and computer games. We did a lot of pickup baseball and football you know running around and kids don't do that as much, so I'm going to get them heavily involved in tracking me and keeping me honest," said Newman Elementary Principal John Erlacher.

Two $1,000 prizes will be awarded, one to the overall winner and one to the most improved.