Childhood Obesity Spikes, Alabama P.E. Instructors Fight Back

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Sit-ups, push-ups and v-sits. Things we've all done in gym class. But now Alabama schools are taking a new approach to physical fitness to combat childhood obesity.

"It used to be called the President's Challenge Physical Fitness," says Cloverdale P.E. teacher Joyce McMillen. And now.

"It's called the Alabama Fitness Assessment Test," she added. But there's more to it than just a name. The program has been completely redesigned to create a more demanding routine, focused on running.

"Running is so important and it gets so many muscles moving and they understand their bodies with the heart beating faster," explains McMillen.

The mile-run used to be modified but now all students get involved. "Every student 8 years on up must do an entire mile," says McMillen.

A change that Brittney Grimsley feels is just the right pace. She is among a small group with the fastest mile in the school and she says she owes it all to McMillen.

"It feels great because you know our P.E. teacher has the time to show us all this so we won't get diseases and get sick," says 5th grader Brittney Grimsley.

And there are other changes the students don't see.

McMillen says the changes to the program aren't just about Physical Education. The well-rounded approach actually helps students get better as they go from the gym to the classroom.

"The running is really a big deal," says McMillen.

"Because we're doing a lot of exercises...we're running and you know if we didn't have to run then I wouldn't strive at none of my goals," added. Grimsley.

Goals that she gets closer to every step of the way.

Along with a focus on running, McMillen also tries to discuss nutrition with her students so they'll make healthy choices.

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