WASHINGTON — Health officials have some simple advice for military children this weekend: Run.

May 20 marks the fifth Armed Forces Kids Run event, designed to promote physical fitness and healthy lifestyles among military families. Youth counselors at more than 150 U.S. military bases worldwide will participate, and organizers hope to include more than 20,000 kids in the jogging, sprinting and leg-stretching activities.

A 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians study of 170 San Diego children found that children from military families watched more television in their free time and fared poorer on fitness tests than their civilian peers. The survey also found military children weighed more and had higher body-mass index scores.

Dan Petek, an event organizer with the nonprofit America’s Kids Run, said part of the issue is the activities available to children who live on a military base or in a remote region.

“They may be far away from the nearest city, so they don’t get to those kinds of programs or teams,” he said.

The weekend events will be run through youth activity centers at military bases. Petek said in past years many of the counselors involved have expanded the day into part of a larger fitness regimen for the children, lasting months or even all-year long.

“We’re hearing some kids who did the half-mile run a few years ago boasting about going for the two-mile run this year,” he said.

For more information, visit A list of events and bases participating is available through the registration page,

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