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Free or cheap summer activities for Houston kids

Before the days of television, video games, social media, and other electronic activities, kids were naturally active. Those were the days when childhood obesity was rare. However, in the last 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity has more than doubled in children and has quadrupled in adolescents. From 1980 to 2012, childhood obesity increased from 7% to 18% and adolescent obesity increased from 5% to 21%.

As old fashioned games of jumping rope, hopscotch, and tag have fallen by the way, so have our kids' fitness levels. According to a Reuters Health article, a new study has revealed that autopsies of nearly 9% of young and fit U.S. service members who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars already showed early signs of heart disease with plaque buildup in their arteries. These symptoms used to be found mainly in older people.

If our kids are to grow up and lead fit, productive, and happy lives, consistent exercise and healthy food choices are key. Healthy lifestyle habits can be more easily established in childhood and help to avoid diseases related to obesity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, and many types of cancer. With summer in full swing, Houston offers kids many activities.

Dog Training

Kids love working with animals and teaching Max some tricks and obedience commands for a Canine Good Citizen certificate can be rewarding both mentally and physically. Dog training may also lead to an interest in dog sports such as highly active agility or to a career as a vet tech or veterinarian.

Kayak Camp

Kayak Camp is available at Discovery Green and teaches children safety, instruction, and supervised paddling.

Third Sundays, Armand Bayou Nature Center

ABNC offers a free outing every third Sunday of the month for families to get outdoors and enjoy nature and the nature center.

Quillen Center, Noah's Ark Pool

The Quillen Center is a sports and recreation ministry of First Methodist Houston which offers affordable after-school child care, summer day camp activities, basketball, flag football, enrichment classes, swimming, and a whole host of other special events, activities and programs for children, youth, adults, and senior adults alike. Their Noah's Ark Play Pool is designed for younger children.

Kids Bowl Free

Several Houston-area bowling centers are taking part in the 2014 Kids Bowl Free program this summer. Participating locations offer two free games each day to kids 15 and under.

Recommended reading:
Keeping kids active during summer vacation
Summer lunch program for Houston kids
Playing a musical instrument can make your kids smarter
Early eye care for kids helps learning and school performance
Exposure to violence changes brain activity in children