By Deborah Lowther
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that Canadian kids between 5 and 17 years of age get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day. Only 5% of 5- to 17-year olds are meeting these recommendations. ¹
This is surprising to me as kids are naturally active. Remember when your toddler first learned to walk? They didn’t stop, into everything and always on the move. We were exhausted chasing after them day after day.
Somewhere in our multi-tasking busy lives, we have taught our kids to sit still, to entertain themselves with electronics and busy themselves indoors instead of looking for opportunities to get outside and play.
We need to understand the impact this can have on our kids’ long-term health and make some big changes now to encourage your kids to be more active. A recent study revealed that 46% of Canadian kids get three hours or less of active play per week, including weekends. ² This is not enough.
We could focus on the negative statistics of inactive kids, but I’d rather look at the bright side and the benefits of raising active kids. Active kids are more likely to be overall healthier, happier kids. A 2010 report in Science Daily found a medical study presented at a conference for American Heart Association that even links physical fitness to better school performance. ³
10 Benefits of Raising Active Kids
1.Healthy body weight
3.More laughing and smiling
5.Longer attention span
7.Improved fitness level
8.Stronger bones and muscles
9.Increased balance and flexibility
10.Learning new skills
Inactive kids grow up to be inactive adults and that is when the real health problems can begin. We need to start now and teach our children active lifestyle habits that will stay with them give them the best chance of becoming healthy active adults.
How can we do this? Being an active role model is the first step. There are certain things that are part of our family lifestyle like brushing our teeth or going to sleep at night, here, being active outside as much as possible is just one more of those things.
Simple ideas such as an after dinner walk, a weekend hike, learning to run together, a bike ride to the ice cream shop or putting that basketball net to good use for a little street action are all easy ways to add activity to your families day.
I challenge you to get active with your children, and tell me you don’t see happy smiling kids!
1*Source: 2009-2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS; www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100113/dq100113a-eng.htm)
2*Source: Active Healthy Kids Canada. (2012) Is active play extinct?: The Active Healthy Kids Canada report card on physical activity for children and youth 2012, Toronto, ON
3* Source: Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302185522.htm
BIO: Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active. Find more inspiring tips on her website http://www.raisinghealthkids.co and follow her on both Twitter @Deb_Lowther and Pinterest.