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Get up, and get active!

May 1, 2011 | Campaigns, National Summer Safety Week

One of the greatest things to do when the weather gets warmer is to participate in outdoor activities and sports. It is also part of a healthy lifestyle, but not enough Canadian children are being active. According to a study by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, children in Canada do not get enough physical activity on a daily basis.

Active play is critical for the healthy development of children, especially because it helps build social skills, imaginations, and self-esteem. Research shows that lifestyle patterns set before the age of five predict health outcomes in later childhood and through adulthood.

During National Summer Safety Week the Canada Safety Council encourages you to get outside with your children and participate in sports and activities as a family. Staying active on a regular basis is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

According to the 2010 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, only 12 per cent of Canadian children and youth are meeting the guidelines set forth by Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. The inactivity crisis is particularly serious for girls. Only five per cent of adolescent girls are meeting the guidelines. However, 20 per cent of boys aged five to 10 and 15 per cent of boys aged 11 to 14 meet the guidelines.

These new Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, released by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), state that children (5-11 years) and youth (12-17 years) require at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity per day, while adults (18-64 years) and older adults (65+) must get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. Although, Canadians should try to exceed the minimum activity levels recommended. The greater the variety, intensity, and duration of physical activity, the greater the health benefits.

Children and youth should engage in vigorous-intensity activities, as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities at least three days per week, as part of their 60 minutes per day. Vigorous-intensity physical activities will cause children and youth to sweat and be ‘out of breath’. These activities include, but are not limited to, running, swimming, and rollerblading. While bike riding and brisk walking are considered to be moderate-intensity physical activities.

Also released by CSEP, are the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines which recommend that children (5-11 years) and youth (12-17 years) limit sedentary time, meaning that they should limit the time spent in front of a computer or television screen to no more than two hours per day. Sedentary transport, prolonged sitting, and time spent indoors throughout the day should also be limited. Spending less time being sedentary can help children and teens to maintain a healthy body weight, perform better in school, and improve their self-confidence.

How parents can help keep their children active:

  • Determine a time limit for watching TV, playing video games, and/or playing on the computer. The current recommendation is up to two hours daily. Limiting screen time creates more opportunities for active play.
  • Keep televisions out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Use active transportation to get to and from places if possible. Walking with your kids is a great way for both of you to incorporate physical activity into your day. Riding a bike or rollerblading is also great active transportation.
  • Encourage your children to get involved in sports teams or clubs within the community, and at school.
  • Get your children involved in active chores around the house, such as raking, vacuuming and gardening.
  • During summer vacation, make sure that you have plenty of toys and sports equipment on hand that encourage active play, such as basketballs, soccer balls, jump rope, squirt guns, etc.
  • Plan outings to the local pool, playground, or tennis courts.
  • On days that it is raining or too hot to go outside, play active games inside. Even video games that get you moving are great, such as Nintendo Wii™ games or Playstation® Move games.
  • Set a good example for your children. Get moving yourself, and chances are your child will follow.

Canada Safety Council wishes you a safe and active summer, and always remember to wear your sunscreen anytime you are in the sun!

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For more information, please contact:
Valerie Powell
Communications and Media Program Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)

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