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Oregon Family Magazine

Five Fun Ways to Get Kids Moving

10/21/2010 08:18 ● By Anonymous
Physical activity is essential for a healthy lifestyle. And now, more than ever, it's important to get kids engaged in physical activity for their long-term health.

Decreased opportunities for exercise and increased consumption of calories are just part of the problem. Recent studies have shown that 8- to 18-year-olds average 7 1/2 hours a day using entertainment media such as TV, computers, cell phones and video games. All of that has added up to 17 percent of all children in this country being obese. That obesity rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has tripled since just one generation ago.

Obese children and adolescents are at what the CDC calls an "alarmingly high risk" for elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and for becoming obese adults.

Fortunately, there are things parents and caregivers can do to help reduce the risk of obesity for the children they love. One of the most important is to get them moving.

Most kids won't do something if it's not enjoyable, so here are five fun ways to get your kids moving and on their way to a healthier life.

1. Family Go Time: Doing things together sets a good example for the kids and creates some healthy family bonding. Put "Go Time" on the family calendar and let everyone come up with fun things do to such as: bike riding, a neighborhood hike, family tag, jumping rope, dancing, or hoola-hoop sessions. 2. Feet First: Instead of driving them everywhere, let them walk whenever possible - to school, to the library or to a friend's house. When you do drive, park at the far end of the parking lot, furthest from your destination. Encourage them to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Give them an inexpensive pedometer to help them track their steps each day. 3. Move for a Cause: There are many local charity events that involve physical activity. Walks, runs, bike rides and even jumping rope for charity are fun ways that kids can help others while helping themselves. Make sure they have plenty of time to train before the event and have the proper equipment they need. 4. Cool Competition: Whether it's soccer, volleyball, martial arts, dance or swimming, working with and competing against others develops good social skills along with physical ones. Don't have a league or a team in your area? You can always start one. 5. Go Natural: Kids don't need expensive equipment or a formal playing field to get moving. Let them run around the back yard and create their own fun. Encourage them to climb trees, use playground equipment or just play kick the can. Take advantage of the natural beauty of your area to go hiking, biking or rock climbing.

To help kids get more active and enjoy physical fitness, Sports Authority, Inc. has launched a national contest that taps kids' natural energy and creativity. The Sports Authority Move It Challenge is a national invention competition designed to uncover exciting new youth-created sporting and backyard games. A grand prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the winner, with four finalists each receiving $1,000.

The contest runs through January 3, 2011 and is free to enter. To learn more, get inspiration and helpful tips at www.moveitchallenge.com.

Photo courtesy of Fotolia