According to the experts, exercise is key to building better and stronger bones in kids.
It’s been ingrained in our heads since we were little that building strong bones is important. The problem is that these days many children aren’t getting the daily recommended diet and exercise needed to do so.
And, with technology use at an all-time high, children are spending less time playing outdoors, which increases the risk of obesity.
This issue is also compounded in Oman, where the extreme temperatures of summer mean little or no outdoor play for children.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.
If that trend continues, the WHO warns that this figure will explode to 70 million by 2025. In the United States, approximately 32 per cent of children and adolescents aged between two to 19 are considered overweight or obese while in Oman obesity levels are on the rise.
However, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) wants to help empower families to get up, get out and get moving to ensure optimal bone growth and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases later in life.
“Building your child’s bone bank is like a college savings plan: the earlier you start
investing, the better,” says AAOS spokesperson Dr Jennifer Weiss, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles.
“Parents should ensure that kids are getting adequate calcium to keep their bones strong as well as appropriate levels of vitamins D and C to allow the body to absorb the calcium.”
So what’s a parent to do? The following tips from the AAOS will help get your kids (and you) moving while building better, stronger bones:
Make physical activity a part of a child’s schedule for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day. Make it fun. With the cooler months in Oman, walking around the block to see the colours, kicking a football in the garden or at the beach, or riding a bike is a perfect way to bond with your kids and still get in some exercise. Bonus? Being outside gets you and the kids some much-needed vitamin D, which also helps build strong bones.
Life is busy, which makes on-the-run snacks and meals an easy fix for harried parents. Unfortunately, most of this kind of food does not have the nutrients to ensure
good bone health. Adolescents should consume a healthy diet with calcium to maintain strong bones and lower the risk of excessive weight gain.
Studies show that strength training is key to healthy bones. During resistance training, muscles have to work harder and, over time, become stronger. Although resistance exercises focus on increasing muscle mass, they also put stress on bones and have bone-building capacity.
It’s understandable that kids’ whims change with the seasons, as do the number of teams they want to play on. However, try to limit the number of teams a child plays on in one season to avoid overuse injuries. In addition, if your child tells you that something
hurts, discourage him or her from playing through the pain.
For more information, visit orthoinfo.org.