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Get Active With Kids This Season

Skating, sledding, biking are even more fun when parents join in, experts say

MONDAY, Dec. 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- If you give your child a bicycle, skates, skis or any other type of activity-related present during the holidays, be sure to give them your time, too.

"If parents are directly involved in the activity... then parents will know if the activity or game is age-appropriate. The time together also is an opportunity for adults to demonstrate how to use the new toy and address any safety concerns. Safety should always be first when promoting an active lifestyle for children," Carole DeHaven, a continuing lecturer in the department of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, said in a prepared statement.

Giving children presents that encourage them to be active -- and sharing that activity with them -- can turn out to be lifelong gifts. Obese children can easily become obese adults. So providing them with the equipment and support to be physically active can change their lives.

"When adults give themselves as part of the gift, it also encourages the child to participate in the activity. Don't just give your child in-line skates or a sled, but schedule a specific time when you can skate, sled or walk with the child," DeHaven said.

She offered some suggestions for gifts that encourage children to be active:

  • Bicycle, sled, skates or in-line skates. Be sure to provide children with the necessary safety gear.
  • Money to pay for participation in organized sports or activities such as ballet.
  • Books that promote physical activity.
  • Jump ropes, tumbling mats, balls, Pogo sticks or Hula-Hoops.
  • Active board games like Twister, or virtual reality games where children dance.
  • Favorite music for children to dance to.
  • A "coupon" to meet a child once a week for an activity, such as a walk in the park.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about children and physical fitness.

SOURCE: Purdue University, news release, Dec. 5, 2006
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