School kids are 'JAMmin' to get fit

LOS ANGELES It might look like P.E. on a rainy day, but it's not. Rather, it's a unique way to get kids moving called the JAMmin' Minute.

"Our whole society is trying to get the kids to exercise and this is a quick way to do it," said fitness expert, Tracey Mallett.

Winnetka Elementary School in the valley is one of 6000 schools in America participating in the Jam School Program. Offering weekly 60 second exercises to get kids engines running efficiently.

"It gives them a great sense of awareness of their body because there are a lot of people a lot of children who are not good at sports and they feel intimidated to move their body," said Mallett.

Teachers launch a JAMmin' Minute any where at any time to give kids a boost.

"Sometimes we'll bring the whole school outside and do a JAMmin' Minute together if we're at an assembly and we need to kill a few minutes," said Principal Adelman.

"When we are in the middle of a lesson and I see the kids are kind of drifting off, I say it's time to get our jam on," said teacher, Pamela Roberts.

Exercise physiologists and dietitians created the format with a thumbs up from the American Heart Association and Center for Disease Control. The idea is to improve coordination, burn calories, increase flexibility, body awareness and bone density.

"Kids build 75 percent of their bone mass between 9 and 18," said Patti Howell, founder of the Jam School Program.

Howell founded the Jam School Program to help fight childhood obesity. Her company helps corporations become more aware of health through a paid subscription newsletter. Something she thought could be passed on to schools.

"A simple daily habit that they can apply either that day or take home with them or for the rest of their life," said Howell.

It consists of five simple exercises, one teacher, and it takes 60 seconds. The best part -- it's free.

The kids also get a health tip. It's basically news you can use for food and fitness that the kids can take home with them.

The health tip today is to avoid spreading germs when you have a cold by coughing into your elbow instead of your hand.

Gary Thomas likes doing the "opposite elbow to opposite knee exercise," but he says others like jammin' for an other reason.

"What do the other kids think about it? They think it's great. But mostly because they're going to be on TV," said Thomas.

Web Extra Information:

We are all fighting the obesity epidemic in this country and LA Unified is not exception. The JAM School Program is a free resource tool that schools are using to bring health education into the classroom in their efforts to combat childhood obesity.

Each week of the school year, JAM delivers a one-minute physical activity routine called a JAMmin' Minute that schools are using to get the kids and staff more active each day. (Just 5 minutes each day over the course of the year can add up to a weight loss of 3-5 pounds for an overweight child, if nothing else changes.)

Every month, schools receive a Health-E-tips one-page newsletter packed full of simple ways to make each day a little healthier.

JAM emphasizes health is a daily activity and it takes very little time and that small changes can make a big impact over time. It is a matter of teaching these kids (and the staff and parents) better choices. We know that healthier kids are happier and more productive both inside and outside the classroom.

Research also shows that healthier kids do better in school and score higher on exams.

Schools have a critical and unique role in helping improve children's health. But they can't do it alone. It is going to take coordinated efforts of the schools, along with the parents and the businesses that serve these communities. These kids are our leaders of tomorrow and it is going to take all of us to help them succeed. JAM is just one ingredient.


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