A broken nose and tough loss to the Oakland Raiders couldn’t keep New York Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez from encouraging middle school students to stay fit and eat healthy. Sanchez joined GENYOUth, an organization aiming to stamp out childhood obesity, and Discovery Education, at Central Park East Middle School in Manhattan on Tuesday for a webinar promoting the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which urges kids to improve nutrition and physical activity.
“It’s important to instill the right values about eating and exercise,” Sanchez says. “I remember being young and watching John Elway, Dan Marino and Brett Favre. I was in awe of them and wondered how they prepare for a game and what they eat. So I’m happy I can share information with kids about staying healthy.”
The 30-minute webinar hosted by Sanchez and GENYOUth’s CEO Alexis Glick, was a fun and interactive mix of nutrition tips, jumping jacks, and a question and answer session. Sanchez, who has six touchdown passes so far this season, suggested students involve their friends in active games for at least 60 minutes a day.
“When my homework was done I wanted to get out and run around with my friends,” Sanchez told students. “Sometimes my parents would have to drag me into the house because I was busy playing handball and tag and didn’t want to stop. When you have your friends playing with you, it makes exercise so much more fun.”
Sanchez told students jumping rope and running up steps are simple ways to stay in shape. He also recommended kids start their day with a healthy breakfast and avoid cereals with high amounts of sugar.
With all of the talk focusing on eating well, will you ever catch Sanchez scarfing down cheeseburgers and candy? Probably not.
“Even as a kid I wasn’t really into sweets. I’d eat fast food occasionally. As an adult, I try to stay away from bad food. It’s so true that what you put in your body you feel later on the field,” Sanchez says. “If you fuel up with fast food all the time you’re not going to be productive. When you eat right, get a good amount of whole grains and drink the right dairy products, you can feel the difference.”
After spending his afternoon with the students, who ended the webinar with a hearty “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” chant, Sanchez says the kids cheers are a great pick me up after Sunday’s defeat.
“We’re coming off a loss on Sunday. That’s hard,” Sanchez says. “But being here is so cool. These kids watch us win, lose or draw. The reception was awesome.”