Physical activity is one of the most important aspects of a child’s overall health. Being physically active is more important than ever, as exercise levels have continued to drop and cardiovascular diseases have continued to rise in Canadians. It is also important to make sure your children are physically active from a young age and have positive experiences with activity, sport, and exercise, so that they are more inclined to aim towards life-long physical activity. With lifelong exercise comes numerous health benefits.
Some benefits of physical activity include:
- Increase muscular strength and endurance
- Enhance bone density
- Improve flexibility
- Develop cardiovascular fitness
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Reduce risk of chronic illness and health problems
- Lessen likelihood of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use
- Improved mental health and well-being
So we know that physical activity is important for children and their health, so here are some ways to get them moving!
Ways to encourage physical activity:
- Encourage active transportation – Instead of driving your children place to place, try to incorporate more active ways of transportation. This could mean walking or biking instead of driving, or getting off of the bus at an earlier stop so you can walk a few extra blocks!
- Schedule active time for your child – Make physical activity a priority. This could mean signing your children up for scheduled sport activity on a community team, or doing activities with them after school, or going for evening bike rides or walks together!
- Be encouraging – Children need positive reinforcement when it comes to physical activity! If they feel bad or insecure about their abilities, this often leads to decreased physical activity as they grow older. Ensure that they are able to be physically active in safe spaces where they are comfortable to try. Having self-esteem is so important!
- Get them outside – Children are very creative! If you can get them to a playground or field, they will find a way to run around and be out of breath by the time you return home.
- Create variety – It is important to combine moderate activities (e.g., walking, biking) with periods of more vigorous activity (e.g., running, soccer, tag). Sometimes children can get bored easily, and need to do a variety of activities to keep them engaged. Try playing different games with them at different activity levels.
- Make it fun – When children associate being active with having fun, they are much more likely to continue activity! Make sure to give your kids variety and try new activities to keep them from getting bored.
- Get active with them – Set a positive example for them! Go on family bike rides, walks, or hikes – planning to do activities together gets them excited to do activity and it’s a great way to spend time with them! Don’t be afraid to join in on the fun!
We hope you are inspired to get your child active, and spend time doing exercise with them! For more information, please visit the links below for some more comprehensive guides to physical activity in Canadian children and some ideas for activities to do with them based on their age.
24-Hour Movement Guidelines age 0-4 https://csepguidelines.ca/wp-content/themes/csep2017/pdf/PAR7972_24Hour_Guidelines_EY_En-4.pdf
24-Hour Movement Guidelines age 5-17 https://csepguidelines.ca/wp-content/themes/csep2017/pdf/Canadian24HourMovementGuidelines2016_2.pdf
Ideas for activities to do with your children based on age https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/physical_activity#:~:text=Activities%20should%20be%20fun%20and,%2C%20dancing%2C%20throwing%20and%20catching.