Kids Health

Over half of Canada’s youth are not active enough for healthy growth and development. We must teach our children about physical activity and their health and encourage them to do more. Today, most youth know about Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, they understand that smoking is bad for their health, and they take an active interest in the environment. It’s time to make physical activity a priority too. The health of Canada’s youth depends on it!

 A Family Affair

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Youth states that youth need to increase their physical activity by a total of at least 30 minutes a day to start. This can be done in short 5-10 minute bouts, adding up to 30 minutes. They also need to reduce TV and computer time by at least 30 minutes a day. They recommend gradually over a period of five months to increase physical activity by at least 90 minutes a day and reduce non-active pursuits like TV, computers and video games by the same amount of time.

As parents, you can work with youth to encourage healthy behaviors by setting some physical activity ground rules. Encourage youth to play outside and try to be an active role model yourself. Usually, active parents have active kids. It’s important to start physical activity early, as inactive kids can become inactive adults.

Here are some things you can do together:

  • Go for a walk after supper and set goals that you can record
  • Put on music and dance with them
  • Build physical activity into their daily routine
  • Get the kids to take the dog for a walk – build it into their routine
  • Get them to help you carry in the groceries
  • Set up a stair challenge for the family – everyone counts the number of stairs they climb every day trying to increase the number each week
  • Go to the neighborhood recreation centre and enroll your child in a program that interests them
  • Go cycling with them and set a distance challenge for the whole family
  • Borrow some basic equipment such as balls and bats, frisbees, bikes, in-line skates, ice skates and toboggans, and teach them how to use them
  • Let youth help you rake leaves and make a game of it
  • Have youth help with snow clearing
  • Go skating, skiing, hiking, climbing or swimming with them
  • Make sure they are registered for physical education at school
  • Encourage them to participate in house league activities at school
  • When you are asked for a drive suggest that they walk, run or bike instead

 How to Change Behavior

Develop Awareness: Involve young people in the process. They will be far more motivated if they play a part in the decision-making. Help youth become aware of how much activity they do now and how inactive they may be.

Set Goals:Goal-setting helps youth check their own progress. It might be helpful to set some goals for the whole family. Encourage small steps. Strive for the goal, check the results to find out what is working and what is not, revise the goal if you need to and try again.

Give Feedback and Praise: Talk about their physical activities every day and praise and reward small steps.Get Agreement on the Plan: Talk often about the physical activity goals with the whole family to encourage youth to do what they said they would do.

Reward and Recognize Change: Reinforce new behavior and celebrate successes through rewards and recognition. Reward them for doing a little more physical activity each week. Then reward them for doing activities from all three groups: endurance, flexibility and strength. Next,choose rewards for vigorous activities.

Activities for Young Kids

  • Walk children to school
  • Go for a walk after supper and set some family goals that you can record
  • Put on some music and dance with your children
  • Take the dog for a walk and let the children help
  • Ask the children to help you carry in the groceries
  • Go to the neighbourhood playground and help your children to climb and swing
  • Play hide and seek
  • Teach children the skills they need to be active like jumping rope, throwing and hitting a ball, kicking a ball, running, dancing, skating, etc.
  • Teach children to ride bicycles and then ride with them
  • Borrow some basic equipment such as balls and bats, frisbees, bikes, in-line skates, ice skates and toboggans, and teach them how to use them
  • Go on a treasure hunt
  • Have the children help with snow clearing and make a snow sculpture
  • Go skating, skiing or swimming with your children
  • Let the children help you rake the leaves and make a game of it

 Activities for Teens

  • Sports e.g. soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball – at school, or local parks and recreation programs, or competitive – for the social aspects as well as the physical activity.
  • Social outings can be active – try bowling, or paintball, or ice skating, instead of always going to movies or malls. Walking, jogging – with friends, or walking the dog.
  • Join a gym.
  • Look for interesting new activities to try – consider doing a class in yoga, pilates, belly-dancing, self-defense, trampolining or break dancing.

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