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Fighting Fat The Old-Fashioned Way: Through Exercise

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PERSON COUNTY, N.C. — Most schools offer physical education only one day a week -- a weak battle against obesity, but one county's schools are more aggressive in the fight against fat.

Erica Johnson puts a lot of thought on her school work at South Elementary School in Person County. In the classroom, her nose is in the book, but she also counts the minutes until it is time to count the jumping jacks.

"I think gym is one of the most fun things because it just fun. You get a break from all the working," she said.

Person County students are required to exercise thirty minutes every day. Most children in the state get 30 minutes of exercise a week. A parents' group in Wake County wants their children to get a plan similar to the one in Person County.

"We try to get them energized, get them moving, get their blood flowing, get their oxygen flowing through the brain," gym teacher Charles Dacus said.

Principal Cindy Zook said many of the students in the 4th-grade group are learning-disabled, but the gym activities give them opportunities to shine. In fact, most of the students handle school work better after gym class.

"I've seen the children get bigger and bigger over the years. It's really important to have this time to get them moving," she said.

"We try to teach long-term and lifetime goals here at the elementary level," Dacus said.

Getting to the basics of fitness involves a question and answer session at the end of each P.E. class. Students said they feel different when they go back to their desks.

"It helps build up your muscles," student Kyle Ashford said.

"[I'm] happy, not stressed out. I'm just fine. I won't fall asleep. I've got enough energy. I can focus," Johnson said.