Kids jump-start their school day w/ fitness

LOS ANGELES It's not often you see kids striking a pose before they hit the classroom, but that's exactly what 4th graders at Evan Ranch Elementary in Menifee do at the start of each school day.

"Yoga's actually proven to help students focus," said Emily Gantes, a 4th grade teacher at Evans Ranch Elementary. "It helps them to relax. It helps them to calm down."

Calm is good. But there's also a few other good reasons to make like a warrior or cobra.

"Anybody can do it," said Gantes. "Anybody can be successful because you're really only focusing on yourself."

Taking the competitive angle out of P.E. is a big theme right now so that all sizes and fitness levels feel comfortable enough to work together.

Some liken this to kiddie coffee. Kids are getting activity in 8 minutes before the first class.

"California requires 100 minutes per week," said Grand View Elementary Principal Rhonda Steinberg. "So this takes care of 40 minutes and then there's another structured 60 minutes of P.E."

Steinberg says the 8 minute morning workout saves time as kids are marked tardy if they aren't jumping on their spot at 8:15.

"There's 6 minutes of vigorous activity followed by 2 minutes of calm stretching," said Donna Murany of Beach Cities Health District.

Live Well Kids started as part of a youth obesity prevention program. It became popular at schools needing to get their fitness fix fast. There's jogging, jump rope and more with about 8 to 12 seconds per move. The result is a drop in overall body mass index by 3 percent. Those are pretty good stats for a mere 8 minutes.

"They've gotten the wiggles out and are ready to learn," said Steinberg.

And while the Jammin' Minute doesn't count as P.E., it has kept over 6000 students active nationwide.

"When we are in the middle of a lesson and I see the kids are drifting off I say, 'It's time to get our jam on,'" said a teacher from Winnetka Elementary.

"We actually have junior high and high school coaches saying, "What's the deal, because your kids can run, they have stamina," said McKinley Elementary Principal Janette Neumann.

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