Offbeat: Student Exercise

By Bob Snell - bio | email feedback


Kids like video games, but generally don't like exercise, so how do you get kids to put down their controller and pick up their heart rate? Educators at Oak Grove Elemenatry in Greene County are "gaming" their students into shape.

It's all part of the new curriculum at this newly themed Paragould school, that's turned Oak Grove into the health, wellness and environmental science school. Administrators and teachers turned a former locker room into a "gaming" cardio room.

"We have exercise bikes hooked up to video game players," said health and fitness consultant Diana Layrock. The faster you pedal, the faster you go in the game and the controler is used to turn you. They're challending themselves and getting in some competition."

The cardio class is in addition to normal P.E. classes and is offered to all 4th throught 6th graders at Oak Grove. The addition of the equipment is paid for with funds from a nearly $500,000 grant awarded to the school. Besides the game bikes, there's a dance pad, a treadmill, and an elliptical machine.

"They do break a sweat," said Layrock. Rarely do I have a child that leaves here without a trickle of sweat and a wet shirt."

This program at Oak Grove is the only one of it's kind in Arkansas and one of only a handful across the nation.

"The obesity rate is so high, so anything that can give them a little exercise is great," added Layrock. "They come in here and they are ready. At the end I get the moans and the groans because they don't want to leave. They are very excited to come in here and that makes my job very easy."

School officials are installing another 12 flat screens in the cafteria and 24 more dance pads to go along with them, so they can have an entire class "gamercising" at the same time.

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