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Health Beat: Keeping school kids active

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 21 2013 09:02:11 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 25 2013 11:37:07 AM CDT

Nine million American students are packing on too many pounds, but just as kids are being told to exercise more, opportunities to do so in school are disappearing.

Nine million American students are packing on too many pounds, but just as kids are being told to exercise more, opportunities to do so in school are disappearing. 

Some teachers have found a free program to help move the scales in the right direction.

According to the CDC, more than 60 percent of kids, ages 9 to 13, do not participate in sports.  Worse yet, 23 percent don’t engage in any free-time physical activity at all.

“Unfortunately with budget cuts, our P.E. instruction time has been cut," said Tiffany McGinley, a kindergarten and first grade teacher.

Only six states require the recommended 150 minutes of elementary physical education a week and just three states have 20 minutes of mandatory recess a day.

At one school for autistic children, there’s one P.E. teacher for all 160 students. So, the school has started using an interactive program called Adventure to Fitness.  It's free, and it exercises students’ bodies and minds.

The adventures get the kids running, hopping, squatting, and leaping for 30 minutes straight. "Mr. Marc" leads adventures for 60,000 teachers in 11,00 schools.

"We’re never telling our adventurers, is what we call them,  to do a jumping jack, but there is always a reason behind why you might do jumping jacks in one of the episodes.  It’s because you’re cold and your down in a cavern so you need to do jumping jacks in order to get warm," said Marc Loyd, aka "Mr. Marc," the adventure leader.

Luis Hernandez, the lone gym teacher for 800 kids, said the program is making a difference. 

"The kids are more active. They’re more willing to exercise and do things they wouldn't try before,” said Hernandez.

"It' gives me good exercise," said Valeria Hernandez, a first grader.

Adventure to Fitness has a home version to get kids moving at night, on the weekends and over the summer. It's $30 for three 30-minute episodes.

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