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Health Stories

Get Outdoors and Get Moving!

The beginning of summer is the perfect time to start actively encouraging your children to get outdoors and get moving! Warm summer days and nights are the perfect time to go for a walk or a run, to go cycling, to go “blading”, to ride a scooter or to play soccer or street hockey. And they’ll find it more fun if an adult is doing it with them!

When studies looked at why kids are inactive, the following reasons came up:

  • Time pressures;
  • Other activities (ie. tv, computer, nintendo);
  • Lack of money;
  • Unaware or lack of recreational activities;
  • Unsafe environments;
  • Inadequate access to quality daily physical education;
  • Inactive parents;

According to Dr. Claire LeBlanc, CHEO’s former Head of Rheumatology Services and Head of the Advisory Committee on Healthy Active Living for Children and Youth of the Canadian Pediatric Society, “there are countless benefits to being physically active”. “Studies show that it will decrease the likeliness of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and may also inhibit depression, smoking, alcohol and drug use. And if that isn’t reason enough, it may also contribute to higher self-esteem in children and youth”, explains Dr. LeBlanc. You certainly can’t argue with those facts.

In studies conducted by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, it was found that 54% of 5 to 17 year olds were not active enough for optimal growth and development. Adolescents were found to be less active than children aged 2 to 12 years. As well, girls were found to be less active than boys (33% vs. 43%) and were involved in less intense activities.

In a world where we are increasingly conscious of our children’s well-being, we need to also take an active interest in the daily level of physical activity our kids are getting and encourage them by participating ourselves.

Here are a few tips to help your children and adolescents become more physically active this summer:

  • Educate your children about the importance of being physically active. Encourage them to ride their bikes or walk to school or the park. Accompany them to ensure they are taking the safest route there.
  • Provide them with opportunities to learn lifelong skills such as swimming, soccer, baseball, cycling, hiking, dancing, gymnastics and other fun activities. If it becomes part of their lifestyle when they’re young, they’re likely to continue as they grow older.
  • Have them participate in both formal and informal opportunities to be physically active, especially for those who tend to shy away from competitive sports.
  • Involve them with daily chores that require physical activity such as washing the car, vacuuming, walking the dog, planting flowers, raking the lawn or sweeping the garage.
  • Focus your children’s attention on fun and their skills rather than the outcome. Encourage participation rather than winning and competing.
  • Limit non-active time in front of the television, or other sedentary activities.
  • Encourage your caregiver or daycare to involve children in physical activities as part of their daily routine.
  • Be an “active living” family. Be active your way, every day, for life! Make it a “family affair” and have fun doing it.

To get a copy of Canada’s Physical Activity Guide, check out http://www.csep.ca/english/view.asp?x=949

You might also find these websites interesting: http://www.activeliving.ca/ ; http://www.cflri.ca/.

You can also call Health Canada, toll free, at 1 (888) 334-9769 for your copy of the guide or to get more information.

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