Research tells us that only 15% of Canadian adults are active enough for health benefits – and when it comes to our kids, the news is more dismal still. Shockingly, only 5% of Canadian children and youth are getting enough physical activity.
Helping our kids (and ourselves) to move more, doesn’t require expensive gym memberships, costly equipment, or vast amounts of free time (who has that?!).We do know however, that active parents are much more likely to have active children – not really a surprise. Research also suggests there are a number of perceived barriers that stand between our children and the active fun they crave – things like community safety, the allure of screens, variable weather, and a lack of time, or the belief free time could be spent in more worthwhile ways.
Today I’m sharing six simple ways to be an active role model for your children. These tips are ideal for “sporty” and “non-sporty” parents alike. In fact, integrating physical activity into every life is perhaps the simplest, least expensive, and most effortless way to enjoy it. Further, we now know one longer workout each day does not counter the negative effects of being sedentary the rest of it. So take a stand against inactivity and help your kids to the same.
1 – Choose active transportation for short trips. Try walking or cycling to work or school and don’t make the mistake of believing that by driving your kids a few blocks that you’re doing them a favour. Really, you’re not.
2 – Participate in activities you enjoy, talk favorably about them in front of your kids, and invite them to participate with you. Or, why not try some of the activities your kids enjoy – maybe a little soccer, basketball or tennis? If you’d like to become more active and are looking for an easy way to do it, consider walking more.
3 – Set aside time to be active as a family every day – and multi-task if you can.My family often combines an after-dinner dog walk, with a few errands (i.e. banking, trip to the store, etc.). In the spring, summer, and fall, we head to our community courts to play tennis several evenings a week. I also developed a 5 KM running program for families that incorporates active play. Consider giving it a try and get fit as a family.
4 – Encourage your kids to participate on community sports teams and to join recreational activities offered at school. Consider volunteer coaching opportunities and use the opportunity as a way to inspire kids of all abilities to participate.
5 – Limit screen time. Kids average almost eight hours of screen time a day – more time each week than their parents spend at work. Be a role model for your kids by shutting down your device and swapping TV time for active fun.
6 – Add some activity to your workday – “recess” for adults! See my tips for breaking up a sedentary workday and be sure to talk about the importance of an active lifestyle with your kids, highlighting the benefits and the opportunities for FUN.