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Bring Back Play!

October 15, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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There’s been a dramatic increase in the unhealthy weights of Canadian youth (i.e. 15% in 1978 vs. 29 % in 2007).

Adolescents who’ve been at an unhealthy weight for the majority of their childhood generally have a hard time outgrowing this problem. In many cases they may continue to gain weight with age. This significantly increases their risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer. It can affect their confidence levels, mental health and physical literacy throughout life. What’s going on? Shouldn’t our youngsters be spending hours on end running in and out of the house, building play castles with the furniture, having dance competitions, playing floor hockey tournaments, endlessly biking up and down the street or having makeshift wrestlemania and gymnastic competitions on a daily basis?

Unfortunately today, not only are parents over consumed by electronics and technology, our children are starting to follow suit as they see this as normal behaviour. Meantime, our children’s workloads are increasing as some parents seem to feel that extra curricular education, music and other sedentary activities are going to provide an edge for their child’s university applications. Did you know that physical activity has been significantly correlated to improved cognitive function and school performance in children and youth?

Children who are physically active for 60 minutes a day will:

  • Feel happier                                                    
  • Do better in school
  • Improve their self-confidence
  • Improve their health
  • Improve their fitness
  • Grow stronger
  • Learn new skills
  • Have fun

Why are we allowing our children to be more sedentary? Did you know that our children and youth are spending almost eight hours a day in front of screens and 63% of free time, after school and on weekends, is spent being sedentary?! If these current trends continue, by 2040, up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese.

Healthy Families BC and ParticipACTION, are launching the Bring Back Play Campaign: Bring Back Play is a marketing campaign that uses the many benefits that accompany regular physical activity to inspire parents to take action - to embrace the active fun and games they played as a kid and discourage the activities that keep their children on the couch. I encourage you to stay tuned for further campaign developments as it is going to be a FUN one.

So start a discussion below by sharing ways that you bring back play. Let us know what has worked well for you and what hasn’t. Let’s learn from each other and take action together! Contact the Physical Activity Line to speak with an exercise professional for creative ideas on how to bring back play. 

Hope this inspires you to take action to promote healthy growth and development for your children through one of the best methods out there: PLAY! At ParticipACTION and Healthy Families BC we say… Dust off the bike helmets and revive hide and seek. Let’s give them sixty minutes a day of the physical activity that kept us happy and healthy when we were kids. Let’s bring back play.


References and Resources:
HealthyFamilies BC
ParticipACTION
Physical Activity Line
Toddlers and Play
ParticipACTION: A parents guide to physical activity

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Comments (2)

Rylan Mede

Posted on Thursday December 27, 2012 a 7:33pm

In our days technology wasn’t so popular, in fact we didn’t have computers until I was 16 so yea all this gadgets are making our kids run less and sit on a screen more (TV, Games…etc), we should make our kids exercise more so they can gain weight or lose it in a healthy way.
http://www.mengainweight.com/

hurrell's picture

Healthy Families BC

Posted on Wednesday January 9, 2013 a 1:28pm

Very true Rylan! Our over-reliance on technology as a society is hitting an all time high. I see young parents giving their babies and toddlers iPhones and iPads just to keep their volume down. Little do they recognize that getting their kids up and out of their seats and into the playpens or neighbourhood parks will do wonders for their child's mood state, behaviour as well as physical and mental development. Yes some people and children do benefit from having a regimented schedule and they do tend to adhere to activity if they plan ahead and take part in structured sessions etc...However, we need to realize that there are opportunities to be active at any moment throughout each and every day. Tummy time, stopping at the park to play and swing on the jungle gym on the way home, taking breaks to do calisthenics (e.g. push-ups, squats, lunges, air cycling, planks etc.) while watching your favorite TV program, taking the stairs as much as possible are all ways to facilitate increased physical activity throughout the day in fun ways. If wanting to make children happier, healthier, stronger, and more confident, the solution is simple....Sit less, move more, & BRING BACK PLAY! I encourage you to comment below to let us know how you keep your kids having fun and moving their bodies. Keep positive, keep smiling, and keep moving. Marc Faktor.

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