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Work Out With Ronald

By Hanna Aronovich in Food on Dec 7, 2006 2:25PM

Even though temperatures are dropping and the temptation to curl up under the covers all evening is at an all-time high, Americans are doing a bit better in getting their heart rate up. Earlier this week, NBC-5 reported Illinois, in particular, has made the most fitness progress overall, according to a report from the United Health Foundation.

ronald.jpgEven McDonald’s has gotten more serious about fitness. The Tribune reported the golden arches will be replacing its play areas with kids’ gyms. R-Gyms (the R is for Ronald, of course) would replace the PlayPlaces and include stationary exercise bikes, rope climbing and other aerobic activities. "The intent is to provide games that allow children to use their imagination in an active lifestyle," William Whitman, a McDonald's spokesman, told the Tribune.

The concept is in testing mode, and two R-Gyms are open in Illinois: one in Woodridge and the other in Chillicothe. (Huh, where? It’s north of Peoria.) However, it may take up to two years of testing before McDonald’s decides to roll out the gyms nationwide.

Of course, not everyone thinks the gyms are a great idea. Susan Linn, psychologist at Harvard Medical School, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and all-around naysayer, told the Tribune the gyms are useless. "What McDonald's needs to do is stop marketing junk food to children and stop sending Ronald McDonald into schools," she said.

Chicagoist is certainly health conscious, and although we generally avoid McDonald’s, the R-Gyms aren’t going to make the issue of childhood obesity worse. They might even show children how fitness can be fun. And, with Happy Meals now including apple slices and milk, Ronald may soon be able to fit into a size-smaller yellow jumpsuit.