Fitness should be child's play Published May 3, 2007 By Beth Young 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Play is an important part of childhood, but more and more it's happening in front of a TV or computer screen and not on the playground. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 percent of children are overweight, and obesity in children increases the more hours they watch television. "A lot of the problem is video games and television," said Ann Guillory, 75th Medical Operations Squadron pediatric nurse. "Parents need to take a little bit of time to make things more active. If they are going to the mall, park a little further away. Don't just set (your children) in front of the television and video games; -- there has to be a limit." Fitness is not something that should only be a concern once a child has already become obese. It should be a part of every child's daily life. "Just because a kid is slender, or appears healthy, doesn't mean his heart is healthy if they don't get out and do anything," Mrs. Guillory said. "Your heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to grow and to be well." Children don't need a gym membership to incorporate fitness in their lives. It can be as simple as child's play. "Take them outside and fly a kite with them, walk the dog, take them bowling or look for butterflies -- anything that involves physical activity," Mrs. Guillory said. "They will love to do it. It won't be work for them." The base offers many opportunities for physical activity, from playgrounds and swimming pools to the Skate Park and golf course. For more structured play the Youth Center has everything from karate classes to sports leagues. "Fitness plays a huge role for the youth here," said Garry Navas, Hill AFB Youth Sports director. "We encourage the youth to be active participants in the fitness related activities that we offer here. "When the kids see a positive result from being fit and participating in fitness and sports events they are encouraged to participate even further. They learn the benefits of living a healthy, fit life and it will benefit them throughout their lives." The Youth Center also has a program, the sole of which is to keep kids healthy. Fit Factor stimulates interest and awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices by challenging youth and rewarding them for their success. "Every Thursday at the Youth Center there are special guests who conduct classes on things like dance, aerobics, and kick boxing," Mr. Navas said. "The Youth Center does not issue video games on this day unless it is a game that the child has to be active to play, such as the Dance-Dance Revolution games." Getting children fit so they can lead healthy lives into adulthood does not have to be a workout in itself. "Shut off the TV and video games, go out and look around," Mr. Navas said. "Opportunity is everywhere." For more information about programs at the Youth Center visit www.75thservices.com and click on the Youth Center link.