KY Students: Exercising in the Classroom

It's a distinction no state wants. Kentucky has the highest rate of childhood obesity. So now, physical activity isn't just stressed in gym class. A new program requires them to get fit while they learn reading and math.

Thirteen percent of children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. In Kentucky, it's 15 percent - not exactly how educators want to exceed the national average. So they figured out a way to help students get fit, which in turn, is helping them get smarter, too.

Carla Peyton reads her first graders a story, and they act out what's happening in it. It's one way students are "taking ten." Two or three times a day, children take ten minutes to get their heart pumping.

"We explain that the faster you move, the more your heart beats, and then, that's how the oxygen and blood gets through your body and how you stay fit and healthy," explains Peyton.

Sebree Elementary's commitment to the "Take Ten" program earned them a $1,000 grant from the Kentucky Delta Rural Project. The organization seeks to enhance health resources and services in Kentucky's 19 rural Mississippi River Delta counties.

The goal is to teach kids to take care of their bodies but not at the expense of feeding their minds.

Pat Hammack, with KY Delta Rural Project, assures, "The kids are still learning core content. We know how important that is and how busy they are, but if they can move around while they're learning, then we've accomplished a whole lot."

That whole lot includes improving behavior problems in the classroom and test scores.

"We've seen studies that have proven that if kids move around a little bit and then sit down and take the big test, they're going to do better," states Hammack.

Teachers say these extra ten minutes don't take away from classroom time. They add to it.

Peyton says, "They pay more attention. They're not as jittery. They don't have ants in their pants because they get to get up and wiggle."

Parents and grandparents are invited to get in on the action by attending a community health fair at the school Thursday night. It's goes from 5 to 7:30 p.m. There will be lots of information booths and an obstacle course that has equipment in it paid for with a grant by the Kentucky Delta Project.