CPMA Offers Tips on Walking to a Healthy Halloween


Halloween: A Fun Way to Get Kids Walking

The sweet treats that children seek to fill those goodie bags while trick-or-treating has given Halloween a bad reputation, but the distance covered in the quest for treats can be substantial, making an evening of trick-or-treating a low impact, moderately aerobic activity.

Recently, the US Surgeon General issued a Call to Action, in which Americans are urged to Step It Up! Noting that strong evidence exists that physical activity has substantial health benefits, the Surgeon General noted that walking is an excellent way for most Americans to increase their physical activity, does not require special skills, facilities or expensive equipment, and is an easy physical activity to begin and maintain as part of a physically active lifestyle.

“Trick-or-treating is essentially an exercise in walking as little witches, wizards, and werewolves tramp from door-to-door in search of both treats and frights, and they are excited about it,” said Ami Sheth, DPM, President of the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA).

“Kids need to move! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents get a minimum of 1 hour of aerobic physical activity each day, but how often do we see children outside running and playing these days? More often than not, they are inside in front of computer and television screens, the result of which has been a dramatic increase in childhood obesity. Figures from the CDC show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2012 more than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States were overweight or obese,” Dr. Sheth said.

“Halloween provides a readymade occasion to get both kids and parents out of the house and walking. Why not make a game of counting steps taken rather than the number of treats gotten while trick-or-treating? Simple, inexpensive, easy to read pedometers will enable children to see how many steps they take, and can be an ongoing source of motivation.

“Wearing proper footwear is vital, for nothing puts the brakes on an evening of trick-or-treating fun faster than a painful blister or sore spot on the foot or a sprained ankle. Parents can help to keep their little witches, wizards, ghouls, and goblins on their feet by avoiding many of these problems with proper fitting footwear for fright night.

“Save the princess slippers, Frankenstein boots, and hairy werewolf rubber feet for playtime at home; instead, have your little ones wear comfortable, well fitting shoes that are already broken in, with good arch and heel support (preferably with non-skid soles) and strong, solid, straight and firm lacing. Be on shoelace alert and double-tie them before going out. Shoes are also a great place to apply bright reflective tape to help trick-or-treaters be seen in the dark.

“Preventing falls while trick-or-treating is also important,” said Dr. Sheth, a podiatric physician and surgeon in private practice in Los Gatos, California and mother of an active 4 year old. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that falls are a leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween, when children are four times more likely to fall than any other night of the year. Wearing properly fitting shoes can help reduce falls. Other measures that can help diminish falls during trick-or-treating are ensuring that costumes stop at the ankle and are loose enough to walk in with ease and that masks do not obscure children’s field of vision, as well as providing flashlights to help illuminate possible trip and fall hazards in the dark.

“Halloween is also a great opportunity for parents to talk with their children about balance, letting them know that it’s OK to enjoy treats on Halloween and on other occasions but teaching them that in order to be healthy they need to pair wholesome, nourishing foods (in the proper portions) with daily physical activity,” Dr. Sheth concluded.

To find a local licensed visit CalPMA.org

Founded in 1912, the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) is the leading and recognized professional organization for California’s doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). DPMs are podiatric physicians and surgeons, also known as podiatrists, qualified by their long and rigorous education, training and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and structures of the leg.

CPMA - Keeping Californians on Their Feet – Healthy, Active and Productive.