Benefits of Physical Activity

Two-thirds of Canadian children are not sufficiently physically active for optimal growth and development. 25% of Canadian children are considered overweight. Recent studies show that the average child is sedentary for three to five hours a day in front of the television alone. This is on top of the time spent sitting in their desk at school.

Regular physical activity helps children to maintain a healthy weight. It helps to reduce anxiety and stress and it has positive effects on academic performance and skill development. Early introduction to physical activity builds healthy habits that carry on through a lifetime. Healthy habits at a young age can help reduce the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke. Children who walk or cycle to school or participate in daily physical activity show improved concentration, enhanced memory, learning, creativity and an improved mood for up to 2 hours after activity.

To reap the benefits of exercise, most people, including children, require 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense activity daily. So, how can you help your kids be more active?

  • Be a positive role model for your children. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for walks. Leave the car at home to do a quick errand.
  • Be physically active with your children. Plan family activities such as hiking, cycling, walking or skating.
  • Limit the time your children sit in front of the computer, watch television or play video games.
  • Provide your child with opportunities to learn lifetime skills by helping them participate in community lessons or activities such as swimming, soccer, baseball or martial arts.