Physical activity is very important for children and adults of all ages. Being active as a family can benefit everyone. You can enjoy active family fun by creating healthy family traditions, where you will be building lasting memories in the process. Allow children to help choose and plan how the family will be physically active.
Encouraging regular physical activity in childhood can promote these healthy behaviours into adulthood and can help reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.
Here are the benefits of physical activity for children and young people (5-18 years):
- Builds confidence and social skills
- Improves concentration and learning
- Develops coordination
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Improves health and fitness
- Maintains healthy weight
- Improves sleep
- Makes them feel good
Follow these tips to add more active family fun to your family’s busy schedule:
- Determine time slots during the week when the whole family is around and spend it being active.
- Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
- Plan a weekly Family Fun Night that includes riding bikes, swimming or dancing.
- Have your family establish goals that everyone can achieve together. In the first few weeks, you may not achieve every goal, but if you stick with it, physical activity will become a part of your family’s routine.
- Set effective goals that are specific and achievable. Rather than saying you will exercise more, set a goal like walking for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.
- Begin by starting one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready.
- Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game or go to an additional exercise class.
- Walk instead of driving whenever you can. If you have to drive, find a spot at the far end of the parking lot and walk to where you’re going.
- Involve the whole family in household chores.
- Have the kids help with work in the garden. Let them help you with raking, weeding or planting.
Use what is available:
- Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities.
- Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag and dancing.
- Find out what programs your community recreation centre might offer for free or minimal charge.
- Train as a family for a charity walk or run.
Get active inside and outside:
- Spend time outdoors and be prepared for all weather conditions.
- There are a lot of activities your family can enjoy indoors during winter! Think mall walking, indoor swimming, active video games or baking together.
- Whenever the weather is good, get outside!
Turn off the TV:
- Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV and using the computer (except for school work).
- Instead of a TV show, play a family game, dance to your favourite music or go for a walk.
Include your neighbours:
- Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while exercising.
- Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course.
Build new skills:
- Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance or tennis.
- Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting and introduce new skills!
- Compliment their creativity and enthusiasm for movement and be sure to focus more on fun, not on performance or competition.
Treat the family with fun physical activity:
- When it’s time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park or beach to treat the family.