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Chances are your family life mirrors most Canadians’ with a lot of your free time spent hanging out indoors in front of various screens. As a parent you’ve probably realized this needs to change and you’re looking to get your family more active but how do you go about it?

In June of this year ParticipACTION released their Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth where Canadian children got a D- on their physical activity levels.

Break some habits and create new ones:

  • Rather than limiting screen time for kids and pushing them outside, turn the TV off, put on your running shoes and join in the fun.
  • Reward children for good behaviour by allowing an extra activity such as 15 more minutes of street hockey at night instead of more time playing with technology: ipads, video games, cell phones, etc.
  • Find a hobby your child can do or one that you can do together. Hobbies are great at building self-esteem, reducing stress, and are a positive outlet for kids.

Get active as a family: Parents have all been told to ‘lead by example’ and studies have shown that children who have active parents tend to be active themselves. Start easy by checking if there are any local festivals or community events, find a walkable neighbourhood and go for a stroll, explore different playgrounds, dive into the public pool or just go for a quick bike ride around the block. There are plenty of resources online if you want some starter activities for the family but here’s a few to get you started:

Make better food choices: If you’ve been used to buying prepackaged foods, eating on the go, or are a little mystified regarding good nutrition practices, it might be a good idea to speak with your family physician, check out some reliable resources online or, if available, a registered dietitian to get you on your way.

Start small: If your family has not been very active in the past, introduce short and easy activities that maximize fun and focus less on exercise. If you all enjoy your chosen activity it will be that much easier to motivate yourselves to get out and do it again.

Remember that these changes will not happen overnight and some days motivation will be easier to come by than others. Moving forward means supporting one another on the way and seeking help when you need it, until adding in physical activity isn’t something ‘to do’ and becomes a seamless part of your everyday family life.

References from the SIRC Collection:

Carlson J, Sallis J, Saelens B, et al. Built environment characteristics and parent active transportation are associated with active travel to school in youth age 12–15.British Journal Of Sports Medicine. December 2014;48(22):1634-1639.

McDowell D. 5 active family vacations. Shape. June 2006;25(10):46-50.

Taylor S, Ward P, Zabriskie R, Hill B, Hanson C. Influences on Active Family Leisure and a Healthy Lifestyle Among Adolescents. Leisure Sciences. July 2012;34(4):332-349.

Watson P, Dugdill L, Cable N, et al. A whole family approach to childhood obesity management (GOALS): Relationship between adult and child BMI change. Annals Of Human Biology. July 2011;38(4):445-452.

Watts A, Mâsse L, Barr S, Lovato C, Hanning R. Parent–Child Associations in Selected Food Group and Nutrient Intakes among Overweight and Obese Adolescents. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition & Dietetics. October 2014;114(10):1580-1586.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.