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Kids' Guide to Staying Healthy

Let's Play On The Playground!

Staying healthy is important. When you're healthy, your body can work the way it's supposed to and protect itself from getting sick. Two ways to stay in shape include eating foods that are good for your body and exercising. These two things can keep illnesses away, make you stronger, and fight obesity. While there are lots of forms of exercise you can choose from, you can use your playground to have fun and fight fat, too.

Food provides nourishment for your body and calories which can give you the energy to stay active. When you exercise or take part in other types of physical activity, your body will need more calories to keep up with your energy use. Eating nutritious foods can give you all the vitamins, nutrients and calories that your body needs while still keeping you in shape. Smart snack choices include fruits, vegetables, yogurt, string cheese, and whole-grain crackers and bread. Good nutrition can also help you control your weight. Eating foods with too many calories in them can lead to obesity, because it can be difficult to burn off so many calories without getting enough exercise. Snacks that have high numbers of calories in them but little nutritional value are called junk food. Candy, chips, soda, and fried fast food are all examples of junk food that can make you gain weight. While snacking on these foods once in a while can be fun treats, choosing to eat them all the time can cause your body to store them as fat on your body. Once your body forms excess fat, it can be very hard to return to a healthy weight.

When kids don't get enough exercise and eat too much junk food, they can become overweight. Kids who are very overweight can suffer from other illnesses, like diabetes and high blood pressure, because extra pounds put more stress on their bodies. When this happens, doctors can diagnose them as being obese. Childhood obesity is big problem for kids, parents and doctors. Besides effecting kids' current health, it can also lead to illnesses and diseases they can experience as adults. Making the right food and exercise choices can keep you free of health problems today and many years into the future.

While eating the right foods can improve your nutrition, it's only one part of staying healthy. Exercising regularly can help you stay fit by strengthening your muscles, making you more flexible, and getting your heart to pump well. Many grown-ups go to gyms to burn calories and become stronger, but you can exercise by just spending more time outside and playing. Running, skiing, swimming, and riding a bike will help burn fat while making you stronger. Even going for a long walk can help you burn excess calories. If you want to exercise with friends, think about joining a sports team. Sports can be a good way to get physical, while working towards a common goal of training for or winning a competition. They're also a great way to stay motivated, because team members depend on each other to be their best. Enroll in yoga or gymnastics classes to become extra flexible. If you want more freedom and creativity in your exercise, dance to your favorite music. Pop your favorite CD into a player and, before you know it, you'll have burned hundreds of calories while moving to the beats of your favorite songs.

The playground in your school or park can also give you several ways to stay fit. Doing pull-ups on monkey bars can strengthen your arms and back, lifting your legs up while hanging can work your stomach area, and swinging on the same bars can improve your flexibility. Running up a slide can strengthen your legs and help with your balance. Crossing your legs while gliding on swings is a sure way to make your legs and back stronger. Playing tug-of-war can also make your arms stronger and give you better balance. Every so often, treat the entire playground as an obstacle course for an extra challenge. Ask your friends or parents to exercise on a playground with you so you can multiply your fun!

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