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Healthy hangouts for kids
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 09 - 08 - 2008

Due to the long summer vacation this year, parents have to come up with plenty of suggestions for their children's never ending complaint of, “Mom, I'm bored! What should I do?”
If you are running out of ideas and patience, read on.
As a nutritional consultant I would like to discourage the recent trend among many families to go out to restaurants for fun. To stop the sharp increase of childhood obesity in the Kingdom we need to teach our children not to mix food with entertainment. There are lots of ways to have fun and fight boredom that do not involve eating. We should limit the amount of time spent watching TV and playing computer and Playstation games.
Choose places for your children to visit where they will have a great time while exercising their bodies. Physically active children are less likely to put on undesirable weight. The following is a list of ideas of places to go where kids will have fun and get a good workout at the same time:
• Ice skating rink. There are large ice skating rinks at Aziz Mall, Mega Mall, Ice Land, Sawary Landmark, and Shallah Amusement Park. Ice skating is an exhilarating sport that burns up to 400 calories per hour. Take your child with a group of her friends or cousins to ice skate with. At all the centers mentioned above, it only costs 30 SR per hour per child. That is a great deal considering the entertainment and health benefits your child will be getting.
• Bowling. The whole family can have great fun playing a game of bowling together. Children will especially enjoy watching Mom and Dad compete! If you did not think bowling is an exercise, try it for half an hour and see how much you will be sweating. Nice family oriented bowling alleys are found at Ice Land, Mega Mall, and Sawary Landmark.
• Water Park. Children absolutely love going to water parks. These parks have water rides, water slides of all shapes and sizes, and large swimming pools with waves. Swimming is one of the best aerobic exercises and lets kids cool off from the heat. The water park at the intersection of Prince Sultan and Quraish Street is excellent and charges 60 SR per child. It opens at 5pm and your children will most probably refuse to leave before closing time at 11 p.m.
• Beach resorts. Look into spending a couple nights at a beach resort with your family. Other than the breathtaking scenery of the Red Sea, most beach resorts offer a safe and clean shore for children and families to swim in and build sand castles. Other healthy attractions include: children's swimming pools, separate pools for men and women, squash courts, fitness centers, and bicycles for your kids to rent and ride on while you and your spouse take a stroll. Beautiful resorts include Al Durra, Al Nakheel, and aAl Nawras.
• Be careful when going to malls. Most rides at malls are a waste of money because the child sits still, is moved around by a machine and does not need to use his mind. Instead of these rides encourage your child to play where he will be running, jumping, climbing, chasing other kids, and thinking. Good examples are the jumping castle, or the mazes and jungle gym, or the climbing slope or trampoline. __

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