It is common knowledge (and common sense) that Canadian children should participate in a daily 60 minutes of physical activity, yet Canadian children scored a “D” on the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Early Habits last a lifetime. Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well being and quality of life of our children.  Habits that form early can last a lifetime; it is imperative that we teach children healthy habits at an early age, and getting kids used to active play early will set them up for a lifetime of physical wellness.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Children. Physical activity not only improves your children’s health,  it helps them perform better in school, grow stronger, feel happier, maintain a healthy body weight, improve their self-confidence, make friends and learn new skills.

Outdoor Play. Many parents have fond childhood memories of thrilling and exciting outdoor play like exploring the woods, moving fast, rough housing and playing until the street lights came on.  Today, we want to keep our kids safe, close and often indoors where we can ensure they are playing safe and happy.  But is this best for their overall development?

Outdoor play allows children to be more active, have more freedom and learn and encourage self directed play.  Children that play outside are more likely to have moderate-intensity physical activities which cause children to sweat a little and to breathe harder, therefore more likely to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Physical Activity doesn’t have to be costly. You don’t need to join sport teams or enroll in programs to give your children the benefits of physical activity.  There are many activities parents can encourage that will help children reach their weekly physical activity goal.

  • Encourage walking to school – get them to skateboard, bike or run instead of getting a ride to school.
  • Get active as a family – ask children to walk the dog with you, go for a bike ride or join you for a run.
  • Outdoor chores – have your kids help rake the leaves, shovel snow or carry the groceries ( these are also excellent methods to build your children’s self-respect and discipline)
  • Get moving – encourage children to dance to their favourite music!
  • Less screen time – replace computer and TV time with something active such as going to the park or playground, or to the ice rink.
  • Fun outdoor games – Encourage kids to play tag, hide and seek, skipping rope, or building a snowman.

Online resources for Parents to support physical activity for children: