Students danced, ran around, tried out karate moves and played with parachutes while learning that physical fitness is fun.
Pittsburg State University hosted a fitness festival for 1,065 area third-grade students Friday morning in honor of Kansas Kids Fitness Day, and opted to move the party inside at the last minute due to winter weather conditions overnight.
"This is our indoor rain plan," said Shelly Grimes, an instructor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, as she watched the students play. "We got the weather report and did some last-minute changes."
Grimes said the day featured many of the same activities that would have taken place outdoors, but a few others, including sand volleyball, had to be let go this year.
Still, student groups rotated between relay races, dancing, karate and parachutes.
Kansas Kids Fitness Day began 22 years ago and resulted from a recommmendation by the governor's council on physical fitness that children need to be active.
Grimes said third graders were invited to be participants because it seemed like a good age group for the day's activities.
"That way you get them addicted early," she said, adding that the day is full of fun opportunities for children to get their heart rates up. "We try to make it fun activities that anybody can do."
The day's events were led by physical education and fitness majors, among others, from Pittsburg State University.
Jake Reimann, a recreation administration major, said he volunteered for the task of "Getting Jiggy With It" and dancing "The Hokey Pokey."
"I just volunteered to dance because I know all the dances we're doing," he said.
Reimann said originally helping out was slated to be a final project, but was fun as well.
"I thought it would be fun to teach kids," he said. "We're doing a variety of dances and stuff."
Jim Otter, chairperson of the School of Construction, shared his passion for karate with students as he taught them kicks, punches and then tested their reaction times.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's just a good way to show kids other exercises," Otter said, adding that karate can be a lifelong sport.
Otter said he has taught karate for 35 years.
"We love doing this," he said.
Grimes said coordinating the day's activities takes a while, but seeing it come together is enjoyable.
"It actually takes about six months to get everything organized and ready to go," Grimes said.
However, the sound of children laughing and playing fit with the goals of all involved.
"Fun, and the awareness of how important exercise is for their body," Grimes said of the goals.
She added that it is important for children to get their heart rates up for 60 minutes a day to keep that muscle strong.
The best way to accomplish this might just be letting children be themselves by encouraging them to get outside, run around, ride bikes, climb trees and do other play that comes naturally.