"This study provides one intervention to the current trend of declining fitness in America's youth," Dr. John C. Ozmun, of Indiana State University and his co-authors write.
This will not be "the answer to childhood obesity, but it could be a small part of the puzzle, making a positive contribution," Ozmun told Reuters Health.
Various reports have pointed to the benefits of physical activity in helping children maintain healthy body composition and improve cardiovascular and skeletal systems, heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that physical activity declines as children grow older.
Ozmun and his colleagues investigated whether children's physical activity can be increased by subtly changing the task requirements of certain activities already common to them - i.e. by adding weights to toys used either during play or while learning.
Their study included five boys and five girls, who were an average of 7.5 years old, who were randomly assigned to carry either large, cardboard toy blocks that weighed less than a quarter of a pound (0.10 kilograms) or blocks that weighed about 3.4 pounds (1.55 kilograms).
The weighted toys had small steel blocks glued inside the larger blocks. The children picked up the blocks, one at a time, and carried them with two hands over approximately 26 feet. Days later, the children were assigned to the opposite type of toy block and repeated the activity.
Overall, after an average of 10 minutes of carrying weighted blocks, the children experienced significantly greater increases in heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure than they did after carrying the lighter blocks, study findings indicate.
"Handling heavier objects, either through play or instruction, may provide opportunities to increase workload intensity in a benign manner allowing for subsequent improvements in children's physical fitness," Ozmun's group concludes.
The toys may also be useful in a therapeutic setting, particularly among children with cerebral palsy or Down's syndrome who show deficits in strength, according to Ozmun.
Two issues that need to be explored are the design and safety of weighted toys and whether children would be interested in playing with them, the researcher noted.
At this point, Ozmun does not recommend that parents add weights to their children's toys, expressing his safety concerns. What they can do, he said, is think about their child's play environment and create a "mindset of play that's more physically active."
The findings were presented, in part, during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in April. Additional results were later presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Amsterdam will get a theme park dedicated to chocolate and inspired by Roald Dahl's children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," city officials and entrepreneurs said Thursday.
Just like Dahl's fictional "Chocolate Factory" owned by Willy Wonka, the main part of the "sweets park" will be located underground, in a disused railway tunnel which was handed over by the city of Amsterdam in a ceremony Thursday.
The attraction, which is expected to open to the public in two to three years, will feature a glass elevator and a chocolate fountain, similar to the book. It will also produce small amounts of chocolate.
"Ten years ago I made a radio play of the 'Chocolate Factory' and ever since I've been fascinated by it," said audio books publisher Maurits Rubinstein who started the project.
The city of Amsterdam and Dutch construction company BAM are supporting the plan, which will cost 20 million euros, partly raised with bonds that parents and grandparents can buy for their children and grandchildren.
Amsterdam is the world's biggest cocoa port, processing around 30 percent of the world's cocoa beans from countries like Ghana and Ecuador. It supplies the key ingredient, cocoa paste, to major chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe.
Amsterdam is also the place where Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the hydraulic cocoa press in the 1820s, enabling the production of eating chocolate alongside the already available drinking and cooking varieties. He also came up with the process known as "dutching" to create a mildly flavored cocoa powder that mixes more easily with water.
An impression of how the Chocolate Factory will look can be found by clicking on Impressie on www.dechocoladefabriek.nl.
Not knowing what else to do with the massive 12 million dollar Jumbo, it was decided to suspend it from a steel tower 800 yards from Ground Zero to see how it would withstand the Trinity test. Jumbo survived the approximately 20 kiloton Trinity blast undamaged, but its supporting 70-foot tall steel tower was flattened.
Two years later, in an attempt to destroy the unused Jumbo before it and its 12 million dollar cost came to the attention of a congressional investigating committee, Manhattan Project Director General Groves ordered two junior officers from the Special Weapons Division at Sandia Army Base in Albuquerque to test Jumbo. The Army officers placed eight 500-pound conventional bombs in the bottom of Jumbo. Since the bombs were on the bottom of Jumbo, and not the center (the correct position), the resultant explosion blew both ends off Jumbo. Unable to totally destroy Jumbo, the Army then buried it in the desert near Trinity Site. It was not until the early 1970s that the impressive remains of Jumbo, still weighing over 180 tons, were moved to their present location.
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.