Physical activity is a key factor in building and maintaining healthy bones, joints and muscles. Studies have shown that more vigorous, weight-bearing exercise especially helps increase bone density and resistance to fracture.
What’s more, exercise mobilizes fat from storage, stimulates the clearance of unhealthy blood deposits and helps prevent diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. In fact, when it comes to maintaining overall health, exercise is as important as the foods your children eat.2
With school physical education programs continually eroding and more and more time being spent in front of the TV, it’s increasingly important to focus on keeping kids active to ensure healthy development. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends children engage in at least an hour of physical activity a day. Here’s a fun activity to help your kids have fun while getting some valuable exercise.3
Over-and-Under Fun: Build an obstacle course with your children.
Help your children set up a small obstacle course in your backyard or nearby park and invite their friends over to try it out. Use your imagination with the obstacles and be sure to have your children help set up the course. If a yard or park isn’t readily available, set up a smaller course in your living room or throughout your house or apartment using couch cushions, pillows, shoe boxes, etc.
Remember to keep the course safe. Make sure the obstacles and surrounding objects aren’t dangerous or sharp, and avoid heights above a couple of feet to prevent injury from a fall. Keep a stopwatch on hand and help them keep track of their times. Encourage participation rather than competition — the idea is to let your children have fun, get some exercise and feel good about themselves. Afterward, reward them all with an assortment of healthy beverages and tasty snacks such as calcium-rich NESQUIK® Hot Cocoa or calcium-fortified LIBBY'S® KERNS® All Nectar. And check out some tasty recipes you can make with fortified NESQUIK Powder.
Get some old produce boxes from your local grocery store. They’ll usually give them for free. These versatile, sturdy boxes can be used for all sorts of things in your children’s obstacle course. Decorate them with your child for an added element of fun.
Stagger them on the lawn so your children can run through them in a zigzag pattern.
Open up the bottoms and tape several boxes together to make a tunnel to crawl through. If you have enough boxes, make the tunnel twist and turn a little.
At one point in the course, set up a box as a makeshift basket for your child to toss a ball into.
It’s versatile, reusable, and makes a great addition to your course.
Tie several pieces of rope into 10''-12'' circles and set them in a row on your lawn. Have your children hop on one foot to make it through them. Place a couple of the circles side by side for a makeshift hopscotch section.
Place two 8'-10' lengths of rope parallel on your lawn about 4'' apart and have your children walk its length like a balance beam.
Set up a limbo stick for your children. Use boxes of varying sizes, the backs of chairs as supports, or just hold it for your children to give them a fun challenge.
Fill some plastic water bottles or plastic half-gallon milk jugs with water to make small weights. Set up an obstacle in which your children must get all the bottles from one location to another while running through a zigzag course. (Combine with the cardboard box zigzag course.)
With a little imagination and creativity, you and your children can put together a fun course for next to nothing. But although the course is free, the healthy rewards are invaluable.
National Institute of ChildHealth and Human Development; Physical Activity and Bones
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; "Why Should I be Active?"
U.S. Surgeon General’s Obesity and Overweight Fact Sheet