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Small Skeletons Still Need To Be Strong Skeletons!

Childhood and young adulthood are the prime bone-building years. As children grow, their bone mass increases until it reaches their peak bone mass (PBM). According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, up to 90 percent of PBM is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the best time to build strong and healthy bones!

Daily exercise is extremely effective at increasing PBM in youth and young adults. The more bone grow developed the less likely for factures and osteoporosis later in life.

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2- 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

     Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

     Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in bone strengthening activities 3 days/wk. Some activities that would fit into bone strengthening activities include:

Bone Strengthening Activities

1. Hopscotch

2. Jumping Rope

3. Skipping

4. Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball

5. Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

  • Gross Motor Skills, Sensory Input

6. Halloween games including the Monster Freeze Dance and Wiggle Worm

To get and keep youth participating in bone strengthening exercises, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate. Being involved in physical education in school is important, especially if children are not involved in extracurricular activities that meet the requirements.

Additional readings and information:

1. Kids and their Bones: A Guide for Parents

2. Now is the Time to Build Your Childs Bone “Bank Account”

Kids, test your knowledge about bones here: Bone Quiz: How the Body Works!

Have a safe and fun Halloween from all of us at Specialized Physical Therapy!