ORLANDO, Fla. - Nine million American students are packing on too many pounds, but just as kids are being told to exercise more, they're finding fewer opportunities to break a sweat during the school day. Teachers have found a free program to help move the scales in the right direction.
The physical education classes of the old days are disappearing now.
"Unfortunately with budget cuts, our P.E. instruction time has been cut," said Tiffany McGinley, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher.
Only six states require the recommended 150 minutes of elementary physical education a week. Those six states are Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa. And just three states have 20 minutes of mandatory recess a day. Those states are Delaware, Virginia and Nebraska.
At a school for autistic children, there's one P.E. teacher for all 160 students. 'Adventure to Fitness is helping the kids there stay active. It's is a free interactive workout for kids that exercises students' bodies and minds.
Marc Loyd "aka" Mr. Marc, is the Adventure Leader for 'Adventure to Fitness.' He leads adventures for 60,000 teachers in 11,000 schools. These adventures get kids running, hopping, squatting, and leaping for 30 minutes straight.
"We're never telling our adventurers, is what we call them, to do a jumping jack, but there is always a reason behind why you might do jumping jacks in one of the episodes, it's because you're cold and your down in a cavern so you need to do jumping jacks in order to get warm," Mr. Marc said.
Luis Hernandez is the lone gym teacher for 800 kids. He says, the program is making a difference.
"The kids are more active, they're more willing to exercise and do things they wouldn't try before," said Hernandez.
Besides losing gym classes, kids are giving up on sports and playing outside. According to the C.D.C., more than 60 percent of kids ages nine to 13 do not participate in sports, and worse yet, 23 percent don't engage in any free time physical activity at all.
'Adventure to Fitness' has a home version to get kids moving at night, on the weekends, and over the summer. It's $30 for three 30 minute episodes. You can find out more at www.adventuretofitness.com.
Copyright 2013 by Ivanhoe Broadcast News and News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.