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A Snow Day Workout for TRICARE Kids

By  Sharon Foster
TRICARE Management Activity
Source: http://www.tricare.mil/
February 17, 2011

A snow day can cause excitement for many children. A day without school means texting friends, talking on the phone, playing video games, watching TV and eating lots of junk food. Sadly, bad winter weather can encourage bad winter habits.

            “A snow day workout – outside or inside – can keep children busy and active,” said Cmdr. Aileen Buckler (USPHS), TRICARE population health physician. “It can also start them on a path to getting and staying in shape.”

            It is no secret that today almost one in three children is overweight or obese. At this rate, a third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma, according to Let’s Move!, a campaign started by first lady Michelle Obama. The goal of the campaign, launched one year ago, is to solve the problem of childhood obesity in the U.S. within a generation.

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            How did the country get here? Inactivity and bad food choices, according to Let’s Move! experts.

            Thirty years ago, kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class and played for hours after school before dinner. Today, according to Let’s Move!, kids lead a very different kind of life. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and school sports have been cut and afternoons are often spent with the TV, video games and the internet.  Eating habits have changed also. Kids eat more snacks between meals and get more of their calories from fast food.

            A snow day workout can be a great opportunity to get children moving. Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases. It also helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development and decreases the risk of obesity, according to Let’s Move! Children need 60 minutes of active and vigorous play every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

            Some fun snow day outside activities may include: making a snowman or snow fort, throwing snow balls, sledding and ice skating. Indoor activities may include: green light/red light game, Twister game, musical chairs and light exercising (stretching, push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks).

            Safety should always be the first concern when children participate in any winter activities. TRICARE beneficiaries should make sure their children wear appropriate warm clothing outdoors such as coats, gloves, hats and boots. If the weather is too cold, children should not be permitted to play outside. Children should always wear properly fitting safety equipment including helmets and other padding. 

            The next snow day, TRICARE beneficiaries should encourage their children to bundle up for a brisk outside workout! Don’t allow cold weather to give them cold feet. 

            For more information on healthy diets, exercise and ways to help prevent obesity, visit TRICARE’s Get Fit “Just for Kids” Web page at www.tricare.mil/getfit/justforkids.aspx.

 

 

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