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Starting their day off on the right foot

Royal Oaks Elementary School recently started the Royal Oaks Road Runner's Running Club, which is a before-school running club where students run and participate in various exercises.

Royal Oaks Elementary School physical education teacher Cindy Harmer is helping students start their day off right - with exercise.

Harmer, along with speech teacher Katie Mikla, recently started the Royal Oaks Road Runner's Running Club.

"I just thought this was just an easy way to promote exercise in the morning to help them have a more successful day," Harmer said. "I just wanted to promote a healthy club to get their day moving in the right direction."

The Royal Oaks Road Runner's Running Club, which is named for the school's mascot, meets for 25 minutes before school on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Currently the club, which kicked off April 16, has 54 students signed up.

"The turnout was far more than we thought it would be," Mikla said.

The Royal Oak Road Runner's Running Club's mission is: "overall individual health through fitness and friendship."

Getting kids moving

Harmer and Mikla said they decided to start a running club at Royal Oaks because of all of the benefits associated with exercise - both physically and mentally.

"All the research shows how much academics and exercise relate to each other," she said. "Getting this good exercise in the morning can only help them academically.

"Exercise also improves your mood."

The decision to start the running club this time of year stemmed from the fact that the school is currently going through its standardized testing, Harmer said.

The goal is for students to do better on the test through exercise.

Harmer said the running club also addresses the national obesity epidemic head on.

"There is an obesity epidemic here in America," she said, "and this gets them out moving.

"Kids are playing more video games and they are home alone more so parents want them inside the house - we want to work on that."

During the running club meetings, students participate in a variety of running and exercise activities outdoors including running laps, relay races and other exercise stations such as jump ropes, steps, high jumps and speed skate.

Through the various running club activities, students strengthen their agility, improve their speed and learn the techniques to be a successful runner, Harmer said.

As incentive for those students who come both Mondays and Wednesdays, they receive a "toe token," or a little foot charm that can be attached to the students' shoes.

Harmer said she hopes to continue the Royal Oaks Road Runner's Running Club next year, perhaps year round, because of its benefit to students.

"We're working up to about a mile and a half," Harmer said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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