Active Kids - Get Active With Your Kids

Parents that are active tend to have active kids. 
Encourage your kids to play outside, join sports teams or take active lessons.  The earlier the kids start being active, the more likely they are to stick with it as they become adults.  Teach your kids that being active is fun.  There are also great health benefits and  it can keep kids build a positive body image.  Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Youth recommends that older kids get at least 90 minutes a day of physical activity.  They also recommend that kids reduce non-active pursuits like TV, video games and computer time by at least 30 minutes a day.

The best way to increase your child’s active time is to start with short 5-10 minute bouts, adding up to 30 minutes for the first couple of weeks.   Keep increasing their activity over a period of 5 months until they are at their goal of 90 minutes a day.  Vary the activities and make sure to include ones they really like.  That way they are more likely to stick with the plan, be active kids and will have fun doing it too.

Things you can do together:

-Go for walks – after dinner, through the woods, to school, etc.  Make it an outing – if you have a frozen yogurt place a mile or so from your house, walk there for a treat, then walk back home.

-Dance together.  Let everyone pick out 4 or more favourite or funny songs and types of dance, or pick the dances out of a hat.  For instance, you could have dances like old school hip hop; disco; ballroom; ultra lame dancing; partners; the twist; body only (feet stay planted), line dancing, ants in your pants, etc.

-Go bike riding together.  Have a goal or a destination in mind.  Make it a fun afternoon – stop at a craft fare, a ball game or for lunch.  Get another family with kids the same age to go with you.  Pack a picnic and stop for lunch in a scenic area or park.

-Do chores together.  If kids need a little persuasion, offer treats like – having friends over, going on an outing or getting a new football, etc.  (Do not use foods like cookies, cakes, donuts, etc. as a reward!)  There are lots of calorie burning activities to do around the house like: walk the dog; rake the leaves; shovel the snow; mow the lawn; sweep the driveway; carry in groceries; clean the cupboards; etc.

-Start an activity you can do as a family.  Try bowling, skating (ice skating outdoors or at a rink, or inline skating), tobogganing, tubing, skiing, tennis, hiking,  swimming, joining the YMCA, archery, curling, etc.

-Look in the yellow pages or internet for fun outings to do as a family or bring their friends along.  Try something completely new – like a renaissance fair, fruit picking, hiking, horseback riding, touring historical sites, walking along waterfronts, etc.  

Ways to get your kids active:

-Check what sports programs and activities are offered at their school.  Sign them up or encourage them to go try out.  This is a great way to meet new people and get involved.  Team sports help kids to learn sportsmanship, teamwork, strategy, etc.  Some sports are very competitive – but you can usually find different leagues for different levels - like hockey, football, basketball, baseball, etc., through school or local sports leagues.  Your child might like to try less traditional sports, like badminton, field hockey, volleyball, cheerleading, lacrosse, etc.

-Check with your local parks and recreation centers, your local YMCA or city programs.  Sign your child up for activities like tennis, martial arts, swimming, rowing, dancing, skateboarding, dodge ball, speed skating, etc.  If your child really doesn’t like team sports, look for activities where they can do their own thing.

-Enrol them in courses that aren’t typically kid sports.  Let them try pilates, yoga, self defence, speed walking, racquetball, trampoline, ballroom dancing, belly dancing, fencing, spinning, etc.  There is almost always an activity that even the fussiest kids will love – you just have to cast your net a bid wider to find interesting alternatives to traditional sports.  If your child is obese, look for programs that will help them get active in a supportive, encouraging environment. 

-Find something your child can do with friends instead of playing video games or sitting around the mall.  They could try bowling, laser tag, paintball, extreme Frisbee, skate parks, tubing, snowboarding, cooking lessons, synchronized skating, etc. 

Remember – getting kids to try new things and be active is what Fit For A Feast is all about.  You can find a lot of ideas for fun indoor and outdoor activities on our site.  Let your child watch some fitness, games or dance videos and see what sparks their interest!