Let’s talk about the importance of kids’ exercise
The 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth is a comprehensive assessment of children’s physical activity in Canada. The Report Card reviews data from multiple sources, including peer-reviewed research, to give grades across 14 different indicators. This Report Card has been used in more than 50 countries, provinces, and cities and serves as a blueprint for accumulating and disseminating information about kids’ exercise all around the world.
ParticipACTION is an organization whose mission is to promote healthy living and movement in children and youth. This report gives us an overall grade of a D+, mainly due to only nine percent of five to 17-year-olds meeting recommended daily amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Disappointingly, the results haven’t improved since 2013. In short, we need to get exercise!
The good news is that 70 percent of children ages 3 to 4 get the recommended 180 minutes of daily activity. Disappointingly, this small percentage couldn’t surpass the overall average.
According to “The Biggest Risk is Keeping Kids Indoors,” children (and their caregivers) spend too few hours outside, most likely spending time on screens, as the report indicates.
For those of you reading this who are still reading this and not lacing up your shoes to go outside, we can explain why being outside is good for you.
Regular physical activity has been shown to improve health in at least two ways: improved cardiovascular and metabolic health, lowered blood pressure, and reduced diabetes risk. Your emotional well-being and mental health will also be improved, with virtually no chances for depression or anxiety.
Several critical points are highlighted in the study:
• Children spend more time outdoors playing, moving, and sitting less.
• In Canada, the probability of being kidnapped by a stranger is one in 14 million. The likelihood of dying while walking outside is less than that of dying inside a car.
• Often, the air quality outside is much better than indoors.
• The risks of cyber-predators and violence increase when you spend all your time in front of a screen.
• Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are risk factors that are increased by physical inactivity.
So what do we do?
I personally suggest getting off your behind and getting outside as a family, and getting up and moving. Enough is enough; we need to change our sedentary ways if we want to lead healthy, long lives. TV, email, and this blog can all wait.
People learn from them; kids also learn from us because we model healthy (or not-so-healthy) behaviors. They see us eating vegetables and do the same. As a family and as a nation, we should connect with nature and see this great country. If you wish, go for a walk, a hike, explore the nearest ravine or park. Sit on your bike, skate, or do a cannonball into your pool or lake. You should do it regardless of what you intend to accomplish.
I find myself spending more time outdoors after watching my kids outside. They notice such beauty in things I usually overlook.
Your kids may be busy looking at the vivid colors of trees, watching caterpillars moving on the ground, and observing the way water flows over rocks while you stress about your endless emails, dinner plans, and laundry. I was reminded of these simple things on our last ravine walk because my two-year-old has a natural appreciation of the forest around us. He inspired me to pay closer attention to the sounds and smells of the woods. It was beautiful.
I love it and will continue doing this in the winter. I know snow is cold, but it is still fun. So help yourself and your family out. Spend some time outside this week, this weekend, and this summer.
You’ll have the same kind of fun as you were as a child when you make snow angels. Don’t worry; there’s nothing wrong with doing that as an adult.
You, your kids, and your mind will thank you for changing this pathetic D- to an A, or at least a B.
Q: Do Canadian children get enough kids to exercise?
Answer: Sadly, no, kids and adults all need to get exercise to stay healthy, and this report shows are not getting enough.
Q: What are some ways to incorporate more exercise into our lives?
Answer: Role model healthy behaviors with your children. Let’s all get off our butts and run around outside with our kids. Play tag, go for a swim or a bike ride. Use some chalk to make hopscotch play areas or play soccer in the park.
Q: Do our kids need to join more organized sports teams?
Answer: If your child enjoys organized sports, there are plenty of options out there. But your child need not be an athlete to get enough kids to exercise. Any activity where the heart gets pumping is enough, and these activities are accessible for free and with no commitment.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.