NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - West Essex Middle School seventh and eighth grade students jumped rope, hula hopped, juggled with soccer balls and played other games at the American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart Fundraiser on Feb. 18, said Principal David Montgomery.

Physical Education Teacher Bettina Mianulli said the event was a "great success," raising $6,000 for the American Heart Association. “Our students were able to participate in a wide variety of activities that increased their heart rate and improved their cardiovascular endurance,” Ms. Mianulli said. “The exercises that were offered were: jump rope, basketball games, knock out, soccer juggling and hula hooping.”

Students participated in the activities during their physical education classes.

“All of our students were actively engaged in physical fitness,” Ms. Mianulli said. “This year, we have greatly stressed the importance of physical activity and how our students can incorporate fitness into their daily lives. We strive to offer different types of physical activities so our students find enjoyment in exercise. Our goal is to promote lifelong fitness.”

Students have also researched the benefits of physical fitness. Over the past few weeks our students have been researching the benefits of physical fitness and this is the list they have created; manage weight, increase alertness, reduce stress, increase social interaction, sleep better, decrease blood pressure, be more relaxed, build and maintain muscle, increase strength and flexibility, have a strong healthy heart, and to have more energy. Many of these benefits have immediate effects.