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Why Should Kids Be More Active?
Activity levels in children are very important to their overall nutrition and development.
Why Should Kids Be More Active?
Physical Activity Is as Important to Good Bone Health as a Calcium-Rich Diet.

By making bones work harder, active children help them build up mass. Long periods of time with little or no activity has been shown to lead to loss of bone mass, which puts people at risk for osteoporosis and broken bones.

Sadly, kids are spending more and more time watching TV and playing computer and video games. As a result, they're spending less time being active. No wonder childhood obesity has been making headlines around the country.*

In this article, we'll give you an idea of what activities help build strong bones, some ways you can encourage a more active lifestyle for your kids, as well as a special activity that builds both bone mass and gray matter!

*USDA, "Profile of Overweight Children"

How much activity is enough?

In its Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), the Department of Agriculture recommends at least one hour a day of moderate physical activity for children to build bone mass.

    Many Everyday, Fun Activities Help Build Strong Bones:

  • Walking fast
  • Bicycling
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Playing ball

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Be More Active?

Be a role model. When kids see you active and having fun, it's likely that activity will become a regular part of their lives from now on.

Involve the whole family in activities such as hiking, biking, dancing, basketball, or roller skating.

Choose active outings. You'll all walk plenty during trips to the zoo, park or miniature golf course.

Make it fun to have the kids participate in household activities such as dog-walking or car-washing. If you do these activities together, they will seem less like chores and more like fun.

Set limits on TV and computer time, but offer alternatives such as swimming lessons, dance classes and other fun activities.

A Fun Way to Fight Inactivity and Childhood Obesity: The Treasure Hunt

    What You Need:

  • The treasure: To encourage more outdoor activity, choose age-appropriate sports equipment or games geared to the season, such as balls, sidewalk chalk for hopscotch and water toys
  • Bag or box to hide the treasure
  • 3" x 5" index cards
  • Black marker

    How to Do It:

  • Write a series of clues on the index cards with the marker.
  • The first clue leads to the second index card, the second to the third, and so on. The final clue leads to the treasure.
  • Keep the clues short.
  • Gear the clues to the children's ages. For instance, the first clue might be, "Go outside and look for a clue under the red flower," with the next clue hidden under a flowerpot.
  • Hide about five-10 clues in your front or backyard or local park
  • Place the treasure in a bag or box
  • Hide the treasure
  • Give the first clue to the children.
  • Write a series of clues on the index cards with the marker.

Eight Bone-Building Ways to Hunt for Treasure:

Have the kids get from one clue to the next using a mix of these unusual ways of getting from place to place. All of these activities help buildup bone mass. Choose the ones that your kids are old enough to do successfully. To add to the fun, pair up the kids for part of the hunt.

    Solo Activities:

  • Running
  • Skipping
  • Hopping on one leg
  • Jumping on two feet
  • Elephant walk (on all fours, bending forward)
  • Crab walk (on all fours, facing upwards)

    Partnered Activities:

  • Leapfrog from place to place
  • Three-legged race, with one leg of each partner wrapped inside an old pillowcase

More than just an event for a single afternoon, this treasure hunt helps kids understand how much fun it is to get outside and play with their peers – and that can contribute to the development of two things: a more active lifestyle and healthy bones to last a lifetime.

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