Tips for promoting musculoskeletal health in children and families
With kids returning to school and a more structured lifestyle, now is the perfect time to reinforce the link between exercise and bone health in your practices and communities.
We know that children who routinely play sports, ride bikes, or even just play outside are healthier—and often happier—than children who are sedentary. We also know that exercise and activity during childhood, along with a nutritious diet, are critical for building strong bones and maintaining a healthy body weight—not just in childhood, but for life. In fact, the more bone mass created during childhood and adolescence, the greater the chance of preventing osteoporosis and related fractures later in life.
Unfortunately, video games, technology, screen time, and busy schedules result in fewer exercise opportunities for today's children and adolescents. To emphasize the importance of kids staying active, the AAOS and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America created a television public service advertisement (PSA) that humorously features grandparents introducing various outdoor activities to their technology-focused grandson.
"You're going to love your new birthday present. Are you ready?" a grandfather says as he uncovers his grandson's eyes in the new video. "It's a teeter totter." The child looks unimpressed and returns to his electronic game. Eventually, after several unsuccessful attempts to introduce outdoor activities to their grandson, the grandparents take the boy to the park for a walk.
The video is light and entertaining, but the message is serious: Parents, grandparents, and families need to play a vital role in encouraging healthy, active lifestyle choices in children. The video ends with the reminder: "For strong bones, activity runs in the family." For more information, viewers are directed to OrthoInfo.org/ActiveFamilies.
The ads were created in 15-, 30-, and 60-second spots. As of May 1, they have aired more than 12,000 times in major cities including Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Houston; and Atlanta. Additionally, the 30-second spot was featured on FOX News and Fox Business as well as on CNN Airport Network in several national airports throughout the month of March.
The PSAs also complement the new Communities in Motion event that took place at the AAOS Annual Meeting in San Diego and the new online resource for physicians and patients at ANationInMotion.org/Communities. The Communities in Motion "Islands of Adventure" virtual park features links, by body part, to educational materials, animated exercises, and other tips for staying healthy and injury free.
Help spread the word
Although the ads have been effective, we're also asking members to help further promote bone health in children and families by doing one or more of the following:
- Share the video PSA in your office waiting rooms, on your practice websites, and/or on your social media pages using the hashtags #ActiveFamilies and #HealthyBonesforLife.
- Share articles, facts, and statistics on obesity, nutrition, and bone health on your websites and social media pages.
- Direct patients to OrthoInfo.org/ActiveFamilies for more information on the importance of exercise and nutrition as well as tips for starting an exercise regimen.
- Author a short, fitness- or nutrition-focused blog-post for A Nation In Motion® on obesity, nutrition, and/or the importance of regular exercise.
- Promote the exercises and information featured in the new Communities in Motion virtual park.
- Post photos of you, your family, or your office staff participating in sports or other physical activities using the hashtags #ActiveFamilies and #HealthyBonesforLife.
Obesity is a national epidemic. Orthopaedic surgeons can play an important role in modeling healthy behaviors by reminding patients that developing good exercise and diet habits in childhood helps build strong bones for life.
Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, chairs the AAOS Communications Cabinet.