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HEALTHY HABITS: Program Helps Kids

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Gym class has changed a little since parents were in school. Students are now learning more than how to play sports.

Working up a sweat, is fun for the 4th Graders at Jefferson Elementary in Des Moines. Student Peyton Dueling says, "It feels sweaty, but it's so fun."

And jumping rope is one of physical education teacher Stu Card's favorite ways to get their muscles moving. He says, "It's great for footwork. It crosses over into different activities, dance, basketball, tennis, things like that. We've got some wrestlers and they use it. It's a great cardio workout. It's really tough."

Card started teaching physical education 22 years ago. He says the focus has switched from sports to making sure kids are constantly moving. He says, "So, kids when they come in, want to get their heart rates up. We want to get them interacting with each other. Everyone is active. There are no lines, people waiting to play, and we want to have things they enjoy."

Card says this year, he signed up the students to participate in the statewide program Live Healthy Iowa Kids. It's a 10 week challenge for kids to track their physical activity. Card says, "It helps, families to actually get active together. And, it kind of takes what we're doing in here and takes it out to the community."

Live Healthy Iowa Kids isn't just about physical activity. It's also about what you eat. The kids track things like how many vegetables they eat each day. Dueling says, "I've been having a lot of bananas and oranges at home lately."

Student Derek Einertson says, "I try not to eat much candy or anything like whenever I eat something I try to get a fruit or vegetable like some apples or oranges into me."

Lisa Weber with Live Healthy Iowa Kids says, "It brings it to their attention what they're eating, also there's a little competition between the kids too. They obviously want to get more fruits and vegetables than the kids next to them. So, it definitely is a good way to promote healthy eating with them."

Moving more and eating right are two things Card wants them to learn here, so they can grow to be healthy adults.

Kids also track how much time they spend watching T.V. or playing video games, as part of the 10 week challenge. The director says this is the tenth year for the program. 36,000 students are participating statewide, including many in Des Moines for the first time.