Most parents cite the health and happiness of their children as their greatest priority. As moms and dads, we strive to do all the right things, to give our kids every opportunity, to teach them what we know, to be good role models for them, and more. Parenting is hard work!
Despite our best intentions, there’s one area where we seem to be failing our kids – physical activity. It’s hard to believe, but only 5% of Canadian kids actually get the activity they need to be healthy. A few exceed it, some come close, but 95% of children and youth, don’t get enough.
We let our kids play video and computer games or watch TV for hours. We push homework instead of outdoor play. We believe we’re too busy to play with our kids (forgetting that we’ll never get this time with our kids back). We worry our neighbourhoods are unsafe places for outdoor play. We’re too tired, or don’t enjoy being active ourselves. We try to be helpful by driving our kids wherever they need to do.
But what if I told you just an hour a day of heart-pumping active play or sport participation, could help protect your kids from the early onset of many diseases (like obesity, diabetes or heart disease) or could prevent them altogether? What if I told you more active play could reduce their risks for many types of cancer? What if I told you more physical activity could help them achieve higher grades in school, feel more confident, experience less anxiety and stress, and feel happier overall? What if I told you an active lifestyle (for life) could even help our kids to live longer?
Sixty minutes of daily physical activity doesn’t have to happen all as once… it can be broken into several shorter periods. Research tells us even periods as short as 10 minutes offer health benefits. So let your kids run to their friends’ homes or ride their bikes to camp. Encourage active outdoor play. Take them to the park or pool after dinner. Make time to walk and talk as a family, and to enjoy your community tennis courts. And consider signing up for baseball and soccer leagues, active camps, and swimming lessons.
Want happier, healthier kids? Get them moving.