Eating well and exercising daily are two keys to a healthy life. The Sports Nutrition project is all about why these habits are worth forming. You will learn about a complete physical fitness formula, how to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn, why to hydrate, and surprising ways to get your fluids.

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Exploring 4-H

Sports Nutrition

Spark Activity: Heart Races
Have you ever taken your own heart rate? If not, now is the time! The beating of your heart is your pulse. You can feel your pulse on several places on your body, which are called pulse points. Two pulse points with easy accessibility are the insides of your wrist and the front of your neck on your carotid artery. Use one of these points to count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to calculate your heart’s beats per minute.

Jog in place for 60 seconds and take your heart rate again. How did it change?  Is your pulse in a healthy range for someone your age? 

4-H Project Levels and Goals
  • Learn the importance of eating well and exercising daily
  • Explore various sports and the equipment needed for each sport
  • Learn basic motor skills needed for different physical activities
  • Practice different ways of staying physically active - including a variety of sports
  • Learn about physical activity and nutrition and how it affects our body 
  • Learn the importance of hydration and ways to keep your body hydrated
  • Learn advanced information about how nutrition and physical activity affect the human body
  • Explain how nutrients help performance 
  • Learn to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn
Put Your Project Into Action

Show Your Skills

  • Create a poster showing the steps to start a new fitness club
  • Make a video on how to check your heart rate 
  • Make a video about recommended water intake
  • Make a video or poster showing why physical activity is important daily for your body
  • Make a visual about how we consume calories, and why it is important to burn them

Service and Leadership 

  • Start a new sports team in your community
  • Organize a fitness-based event to raise funds to benefit your community
  • Start a neighborhood block sports club
  • Give a sports nutrition presentation to your 4-H club or at school
  • Consider joining a new type of sports team
  • Coach younger youth in a sport you enjoy


  • Grow and sell produce at local farmers markets
  • Recruit members for a team or fitness club

Technology Connection

  • Use a drone to record you playing a sport and demonstrating different skills/moves from all angles
  • Health and fitness related apps

Connecting with a Mentor 

  • Teacher
  • Doctor or nurse
  • University of Illinois Extension staff 
  • Dietitian 
  • Health educator
  • Athletes or coaches


  • Illini Summer Academies
  • Local health fairs or wellness expos
  • Sports camps
  • CPR / First Aid classes

Project Manuals & Exhibit Requirements

  • Sports Nutrition: Ready, Set, Grow 

Purchase manuals on the Shop Illinois 4-H Store.

View exhibit requirements and scoresheets on the Illinois State Fair page.

Related Projects

2 women look at food ideas on a tablet
  • Exercise Scientist
  • PE / Fitness Teacher
  • Physical Therapist
  • Biomedical Scientist
  • Dietitian
  • Athlete or Coach
  • Community Health Educator
Start a Conversation
  • Is a sports drink better for you than orange juice?
  • Does sleep impact athletic performance?
  • Do athletes need to eat different kinds of food to maintain high performance and does that differ by sport? 

Sports Nutrition: Ready, Set, Go (The Ohio State University Extension) 

Authored by: Katrina Galati, MPH, CHES, SNAP-Ed Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Nutrition Education Program

4-H Spark Sheets are a collaborative effort of 4-H staff, volunteers, alumni and teens from across Illinois. A big thanks to the many contributors and reviewers!