Does your kid’s schedule make a fortune 500 CEO look lazy? Between soccer, gymnastics and track and field, free time may seem minimal and other ways of getting physically active may not be top of mind.
The Canadian Physical Activity guidelines recommends kids do at least 60 minutes of heart pumping activity per day as well as several hours of light activity. Participating in sports is a fantastic way for kids to achieve the recommendations but, there are other ways too. Let’s have a look at three ways.
1. Unstructured play
Unstructured play should be a big part of your child’s daily physical activity. It includes:
- activities that happen spontaneously or sporadically, often unplanned or unscheduled
- self-directed games, play and other activities without outside direction like coach instruction or fixed times.
Indoor unstructured play could be playing musical chairs in the living room or dancing around to your favourite music. Outdoor activities could be hide and seek, capture the flag or playing on the equipment at the local park. This kind of free play allows kids to explore ideas, think creatively, and run around just for fun. The key here is the lack of structure and direction.
2. Active transportation
During my teenage years, after asking my parents for a ride I was told very bluntly, “you have two feet and a heartbeat. Walk!” This has been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten and I still stick to it as much as I can.
Children and youth can walk, bike or wheel to a lot of destinations. In fact, most trips under one kilometer are quicker on foot. Remember to dress for the weather; jackets and toques in the winter, umbrellas in the spring, and sunscreen and hats in the summer. Use this guide to plan walking and biking routes to school with your kids.
Although doing chores may not get your heart pumping, age appropriate chores foster responsibility, give practical life skills, save you some time, and are considered physical activity. And no, getting your kids to help out around the house is not cruel! Younger kids can do things like set the table, sweep, or load the dishwasher. Older kids and teens can clean the bathroom, wash windows, and do the laundry.
Your child may be signing up for organized sports with the start of the new school year. This is great! Encourage them to try a few different sports that interest them and keep in mind these other ways kids can be active. Like the saying goes, variety is the spice of life! This is true for physical activity too.
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Active for Life: Outdoor Play is Crucial for Developing Physical Literacy