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Jumping Jacks are Fun - and Free!

On October 11 at precisely 3 pm, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the National Geographic Kids challenge to break the world record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24 hour period. Accompanied by local school children, the First Lady took to the South Lawn and led the children in an exercise that does everything the experts say we need to do to keep our kids healthy and fit. And best of all - the kids didn't need equipment, just enthusiasm!

Jumping jacks on the South LawnFirst Lady Michelle Obama leads a group of 400 local children on the  South Lawn of the White House to help break the Guinness World Records title for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period, Oct. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

At Let's Move!, we often get asked by parents what we recommend for children to keep active. Fortunately the answer is that kids love to be active, so it's really easy to find opportunities for them to exercise to keep healthy and strong.

Here on the Let's Move! website, there are lots of great ideas for parents, schools and communities for things kids can do to keep active. Parents can also find activities for kids of different ages at Health.gov. The gist of the article - and what I know as a pediatrician - is that children need activities that do 3 things:

  • Aerobic (rhythmic activities that get the heart pumping): Examples are running, jumping rope and dancing.
  • Muscle Strength ("overload" to strengthen the muscles): Examples are climbing on jungle gyms at the park, running, hopping and tug of war.
  • Bone Strengthening (force to promote bone growth): Examples are simple movements like running, jumping, hopscotch or shooting basketball hoops.

Not only are jumping jacks and all these activities fun and healthy, but they're all either free or require minimal equipment like a jump rope. These days we're all counting our pennies, so finding free and fun ways to get our kids out to play is more important than ever! We hope kids and families will join with the First Lady in doing jumping jacks, or other healthy, fun and free activities!