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Archive for April, 2013

How to Make Physical Activity a Priority for Your Children

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

How do you make physical activity a priority for your children? What are the biggest challenges that you face in keeping your children physically active?

It wasn’t that long ago that if a child complained of boredom, they were shooed outside to play in the great outdoors. Exploring the backyard, riding a bike, playing street hockey with friends—nothing cured boredom like a little exercise, right? But somewhere along the way, things changed. And now, our kids are physical-activity failures.

In their sixth annual Report Card on Physicial Activity for Children and Youth—released this week—Active Healthy Kids Canada has given Canadian children an F when it comes to their physical activity levels. This is the fourth year in a row that a failing grade has been assigned.

According to the report, less than half of Canadian kids under the age of five are getting regular physical activity as part of their daily lives. And national data shows that 15.3 percent of children aged two to five are overweight, while 6.3 percent are obese. Researchers say that this doesn’t bode well for their future.

“It’s estimated that overweight two- to five-year-olds are four times as likely to become overweight as adults,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, chief scientific officer for Active Healthy Kids Canada, in a news release.

At a time when more parents are working outside the home, money is tight and time is limited, it can seem much easier to let kids surf the web and watch TV than force them outside to get the recommended 90 minutes of daily activity. And let’s face it—sending your kids outside to play unsupervised doesn’t feel as safe as it did once upon a time. But with only 27 percent of parents reporting that they’re aware of Canada’s physical activity guidelines, it’s clear that something needs to change, for the sake of kids’ current and future health.

“As parents, we have the power to influence the long-term health of our kids through physical activity,” said Kelly Murumets, President and CEO of ParticipACTION, in a news release. “We can put our children and youth on the path to active lives by encouraging household habits that limit screen time, include outdoor play and build family time around moving more.”

This year, the federal government also received a failing grade for their investment—or lack thereof—in physical education programs. In fact, federal spending is half the amount now that it was in 1986. So it looks like parents aren’t the only ones who need to step up their game.