The power of an hour
The dog days of summer have come to an end and, by now, most people are working on their fall routines.
After two months of outdoor play, summer sports camps, swimming and the like, our kids will be spending more time sitting in classrooms, being shuttled to and from after school activities, and of course, doing homework. Not surprisingly, physical activity can fall off our radar at this busy time of year, and while physical education classes and school recess periods provide time for active play and physical activity, now is as an important time as ever for parents to ask themselves: "Are my kids getting enough physical activity?"
One hour of heart-pumping physical activity or active play can provide our kids with more fun and help pave the way for a much healthier, perhaps even longer, life. One hour is the amount of physical activity recommended per day by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, but only five per cent of Canadian children and youth are actually meeting these guidelines.
We know that physical activity is important for overall health, but did you know that its benefits are far-reaching? Physical activity allows children to interact with their peers, provides opportunities for social and emotional development, and it has been shown to improve memory, concentration and attention span, which can improve overall academic achievement.
So, as the kids return to school this year, why not break up homework with some play? Adding activity into your routine doesn't need to be complicated, and the hour can be broken up into smaller segments throughout the day. Here are a few ways to make sure your kids stay active year-round:
When possible, walk or bike to and from school.
Limit screen time and trade it for skipping rope, a game of tag or outdoor free play.
Make screen time active time; challenge the family to see who can do the most pushups, jumping jacks or leg lifts during commercial breaks.
Break up homework with a family bike ride or walk around the neighbourhood a few times a week.
Visit the local community centre and participate in drop-in activities.
Plan a visit to the neighbourhood park with other families in the neighbourhood.
Have a dance party in the kitchen while making dinner together.
Do household activities as a family. Don't forget gardening and vacuuming count!
Not only will these activities get your kids moving more, they will also allow you to spend more time as a family! For more family activity ideas and tips on getting active, visit www.participaction.com.