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Saving Active Play from Extinction

June 12, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Last week we introduced the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity and highlighted an area needing significant improvement (i.e. Active Play).

Even though children were failing to achieve healthy levels of active play throughout the nation, it was interesting to see that the majority of children would choose active play over screen time and sedentary activities if provided with the opportunity!

Here are some creative ways to foster active play and support your child's health, growth and development: 1. Children's schedules are getting filled with sedentary activities that parents think will give them a mental edge (e.g. tutors and extra curricular learning, music lessons, art classes, etc.). In fact, aside from screens, it’s these extra classes on top of homework that keep children sitting for prolonged periods of time after school. Parents need to understand that physical activity is essential and provides numerous positive stimuli for increased mental/cognitive performance. To increase active play, try to free up some time in your child's weekly schedule to provide opportunity for continuous movement! This is just as important for their grades.

2. Shut those screens off and send your kids into the neighbourhood parks, streets and playgrounds. Consider talking with a group of parents in your neighbourhood to organize community events and daily sporting opportunities and supervision for the kids.

3. If you're worried about safety, group up and advocate for traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps and roundabouts, which have been shown to decrease pedestrian-vehicle accidents.

4. Consider getting a pooch! Research clearly shows that families that have dogs are more likely to have an improved quality of life and increase their daily physical activity by just walking the dog alone. If you already have one, make a point to take fido to the park every evening for 30-60 minutes of running, dancing, throwing and loving with the kids. This is a great after dinner activity.

5. Surprisingly enough, kids are even less active on the weekends despite the abundance of free time. As parents, make an active effort to plan active outdoor adventures with your family (e.g. rent a kayak or canoe, go for a hike, enjoy the day at the beach building sandcastles and throwing balls and frisbees, go golfing, go fishing, just MOVE!)

Please comment below and create discussion on how you keep your kids moving.

Have fun and be safe!


References & Resources:
Active healthy Kids Canada: Active Play a Vanishing Act
Active Vacation Guide by in motion: Backyard and Beyond

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