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Gym jamming for fitness

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 28, 2012

— At 10 a.m. Thursday, 1.29 million children across the country attempted to set a world record for group exercise.

They didn't make it—the previous record was 2 million—but it was 1.29 million minutes of exercise designed to combat childhood obesity and show children how much fun it is to just play.

The attempt was part of Just a Minute, a national program that encourages kids to play and be active. Wisconsin placed 10th in the nation in terms of percentage of kids participating, with 35,231 kids jamming.

In the Delavan-Darien School District, some kids headed for the gym to jam, while others danced desk-side.

"Instructional time is important, and it would have taken 15 minutes to get them all down here (to the gym)," said Doreen Grams, physical education teacher at Wileman Elementary School in Delavan.

The routine consisted of "raising the roof"—having kids pump their hands in the air—a hula hoop motion, mimicking a motion from their favorite sport, and other activities designed to get their hearts moving.

At Wileman, third-grade students jammed in the gym.

"We're not going to break the record," Grams told her students. "But the important thing is that we exercise."

How many minutes of exercise—playing outside—should kids get every day? The first boy she called on said "four or five minutes." The other kids knew that wasn't right: 60 minutes was the correct answer.

"You have the recess before school and the recess during school," Grams said. "And we just did a minute of exercise."

What qualifies as exercise? Riding a bike, climbing a tree, playing a sport with friends, tag—all the stuff that kids usually do, right?

So what's the problem? The problem is that they don't, Grams said.

Some kids aren't allowed to go outside until their parents come home, she said. Others prefer to stay inside and play video games, watch movies or play on the computer.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course.

Students Jacob Solis, 8; Matthew Whaples, 8; and Jaylee Troy, 9, all were part of the wiggling, giggling group of jammers. Afterwards, they displayed their ingenuity in a gym class exercise requiring teamwork and coordination.

What kind of exercise do they get after school?

Troy likes football. Whaples jumps on his trampoline, and Solis rides bikes. They all liked to play soccer, and climbing trees was good, too.

When Grams asked her class why exercise is important, Solis knew the answer.

"It makes your heart strong," he said.



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