Kids five and up should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. But according to the
Canadian Health Measures Survey External link. Opens in a new window. conducted in 2012 and 2013, 11 out of 12 Canadian children are not active enough. Among children and youth 5 to 17 who were surveyed, only 13% of boys and 6% of girls got the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
In addition to reducing the risk of disease, physical activity:
- boosts mood
- improves self-esteem
- strengthens bones and muscles
- improves sleep
- reduces levels of anxiety and depression
Did you know that physically active children do better in school? They have better grades, better attendance records and a better attitude towards school.
Limit screen time
Experts recommend setting limits on screen time for children. This will help them establish good habits that will carry over into adulthood. The more time children spend in front of a TV or on a device, the less time they have for physical activity.
You should also monitor your own screen use. Your kids are watching! As a parent, you’re the most important role model in your child’s life. If physical activity isn’t a priority for you, it probably won’t be for your children, either.
Find something they enjoy
There are lots of ways to get exercise as a family without spending a dime. Play tag, run around the park, take a walk together after dinner. Show your kids that exercise is a blast, not a bore.
If your kids are interested in a more expensive sport, there are ways to cover part of the cost. The
Canada Child Benefit External link. Opens in a new window. is a non-taxable government benefit paid monthly to parents to help with the cost of raising children. Why not set aside part of this allowance in an account earmarked for sports, the arts and education? If you automatically transfer a portion of your Canada Child Benefit into a separate account, you’ll have the money you need when it’s time to register your kids for their activities.
Help your children discover their talents and interests by encouraging them to try a range of activities. Then they can decide what they like best.
Have a positive attitude about physical activity and make it a key part of family life. Making a commitment to physical activity is an investment in your children’s health and happiness that will pay dividends for decades to come.
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