The juggle is real. It’s always a good idea to consider the added stress that results from juggling parenting and work responsibilities. During difficult times at home, you can bet that your employee’s focus, motivation and productivity is also suffering. So with the new school year just started, why not encourage your team to encourage their kids to get active? Members with access to health navigation via web, mobile, and call centre support can find tips and ideas to help get their kids moving. Not only does physical activity result in a healthier weight, it also helps with concentration at school and keeps behavioural problems at bay.
Canadian children are among the most sedentary in the world. Kids aged five and up should be spending 60 minutes a day on moderate to vigorous activity. Yet the Canadian Health Measures Survey found that 11 out of every 12 Canadian children are not getting the physical activity they need. These kids are more likely to become sedentary adults, and face a higher risk of obesity and other health problems. Find out how you can help your child to become more physically active.
The Benefits of Physical Activity for Children
Physical activity protects your child against heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. Besides reducing risk of disease, physical activity pays off for your child in other ways:
- Better mood
- Higher self-esteem
- Healthy weight
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Better sleep
- Less anxiety and depression
- New physical skills
Did you know that kids who are physically active also do better in school? Their grades are higher, their attendance is better, and their behaviour in the classroom is more positive!
Find Activities They Enjoy
Physical activity doesn’t have to mean playing on a sports team or running races. A wide variety of activities will provide your child with the exercise she needs, such as swimming, biking, hiking, taking a dance class, climbing the monkey bars or playing tag. Give your child opportunities to try different things so they can find out what they like doing. Teach them that physical activity isn’t a chore! When kids enjoy an activity, they’ll want to spend more time doing it. They’ll also get better at it, which will motivate them to do it even more.
Keep It Age-Appropriate
Children will have more success with an activity that meets their developmental needs. For younger children:
- Focus on the fun factor! Make it interesting and entertaining.
- Don’t bombard them with the complex rules of a sport or game. Help them get better at a simple skill, like throwing and catching a ball.
- Offer variety and let them make choices.
- Avoid intense competition. Instead, use encouragement and praise.
For older children:
- Activities can be more complex. At this age, they’re more capable of understanding rules. They have a longer attention span and better coordination.
- Continue to offer choices. Don’t push them into activities they don’t want to do.
- Help them find a niche. They may be developing a keen interest in a specific sport or activity type.
- Some kids quit sports teams or clubs as they get older and lose interest. If so, help them find something new to replace these activities so they don’t become sedentary.
Limit the Screen Time
Whether it’s watching TV or playing video games, the longer your kids are in front of screens, the less time they’ll have for physical activity. It also influences their screen-watching habits as adults.
- Set limits on their screen time.
- Keep computers and TVs out of bedrooms, and turned off at mealtimes.
- Consider changing family movie night to family swim time or family hike.
- Be aware of your own screen time as well. Your kids are watching you!
Remember, You’re a Role Model
As a parents, you’re the biggest influencer in your child’s life. If you’re not putting a high priority on physical activity, your child may follow your example. Be sure to demonstrate a positive attitude about activity, and make it an important part of your family’s life. When you embrace physical activity, you’re making a positive difference to your child’s health and happiness for decades to come.
- Participaction: Follow the Guidelines, Reap the Rewards
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
- Caring for Kids: Physical activity for children and youth
- Diabetes Canada: Active Living for School-age Children
- Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Physical activity for children and youth
- AboutKidsHealth by SickKids Hospital: Physical Activity