Be Active!

Be Active!

The benefits of being a physically active family are staggering! Including number one — fun! The release of endorphins makes us happy, and energizes the brain keeping us sharp. And it can also be done anywhere and with friends and family. Being active outdoors is good for the body, mind and soul.

There is a growing body of evidence that physical activity and healthy brains go hand in hand and that kids who are physically active are better able to focus and learn, have a stronger self-esteem, better memories, and yes, even an improved ability to cope with anxiety and depression.

You may have heard reports that the majority of kids 8-17 years old are not getting enough physical activity and too many are sitting too much, especially in front of screens. Let’s all work to change this! Read on to learn some steps to becoming a physically active family.

Role model the importance of regular physical activity by being active yourself

Research shows that parents who value and model active behaviour are more likely to have kids that do likewise and will carry that value with them into adulthood. Adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This means activity levels which cause a person to breathe quickly or break into a sweat, such as brisk walking, bike riding, dancing, raking leaves, running or shovelling snow – they all count. Kids should accumulate at least 60 minutes per day.

Schedule a family outdoor time at least once a week

Being active outdoors is good for the body, mind and soul! Being outdoors boosts the spirit and reduces stress. Get your kids out of the house, outside, for a walk or hike or bike ride together as a family. Talk with your family about planning an outdoor activity the whole family will enjoy such as visiting a community garden or local farm. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Go for a walk before or after dinner – it’s a great way to connect with your child and add extra steps to both your days.
  • Engage the family in active chores like gardening, mopping, mowing the lawn, raking leaves or shoveling snow.
  • Hike, bike, fly a kite, walk the trail system – check out Canada Trails website for a trail near you.
  • Try orienteering or geocaching. Both are takes on outdoor scavenger hunts and involve map reading. Look them up online for an opportunity near you.
  • Identify at least one winter activity and one summer activity you want to do together as a family like snowshoeing, skating, skiing, indoor climbing gyms, or snowboarding in the winter or frisbee golf, cycling, swimming, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking in the summer.

Be Active Together

They are watching you! Share your enjoyment of physical activity with your kids and bond by being active together:

  • Pass on knowledge of a traditional or cultural sport you know. 
  • Spend quality time bowling, skating, hiking, or going for a bike ride. 
  • Take the pedometer challenge with your child. You can use your phone Health app to track your progress. 
  • Go to a park and play frisbee golf, kick or throw a ball or play hacky sack.
  • Try a class together! How about spin cycling, yoga, pilates, fencing, a new style of dance or group fitness class? Many community centres, fitness centres and studios have no or low-cost options for teens.
  • Sign up for a local event or charity event with a physical activity focus (like a 5km run/walk) and train together.
  • Take an active vacation (camping, surfing, skiing, canoeing, etc.).

Introduce Variety

Kids are not always aware of the many physical activities that are available close to home:

  • Encourage them to check out school teams (recreational or competitive), club teams, or recreational teams through community centres and local sport organizations. Some girls prefer to play on female only teams led by a female coach or leader.
  • If your child is not the team sport type, look together for opportunities within your community. Visit community centres, pools, arenas, courts, climbing gyms and parks.  Archery, martial arts, dancing, kickboxing, badminton, track and ice skating might be some options for individual sports.

Kids are inactive and may be losing sleep over it. They aren’t moving enough to be tired, and they may also be too tired to move

CSEP’s Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (ages 5-17 years) are the first evidence-based guidelines to address the whole day.