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How to keep kids active when returning to school

August 31, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

It’s time to get ready for the new school year, and families are encouraged to help children and teens build physical activity into their back-to-school routines and keep it going all year long.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has released some tips for keeping kids physically active.

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend that children and youth aged five to 17 get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, such as brisk walking, wheeling, and playing sports. However, results from the 2022 ParticipAction Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth show that only 28 per cent of kids are meeting that target.

Physical activity and overall health are closely linked. While higher physical levels among children and youth support their physical fitness and development, it also improves their mental, emotional and social well-being.

Children and youth who are physically active experience greater self-esteem, reduced levels of anxiety and depression, and are better able to learn when in school. All this helps to enhance their quality of life.

There are many ways you can encourage physical activity.

Encouraging kids to walk or bike to school or the places they need to become a healthy habit that can last a lifetime. Walking or biking to school is one of the easiest ways for school-aged children to get regular daily physical activity.

Try making plans for outdoor play as part of the after-school routine. Time spent playing in nature supports kids being active for longer periods of time and gets them moving in different ways.

Sitting less and moving more is an important way for everyone to keep busy. Kids should spend less than two hours a day using or watching screens such as TVs, tablets, or computers when it’s not for school work. Set limits around screen time and offer alternative activities that will encourage movement.

Get the whole family involved by choosing sports and activities where everyone can participate after school and on weekends. This encourages movement, social connectedness and attachment, which are all important for good mental health.

Children who have parents and caregivers who enjoy being physically active are more likely to be physically active themselves.


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