The Benefits of Physical Activity for Children
We all know that children are active, sometimes it seems like they never sit still. They are full of energy and we definitely want to take advantage of that. How exactly does physical activity affect children? Let’s take a look.
According to the Government of Canada, physical activity helps children to develop cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and bone density.[i] Furthermore, it helps them to maintain a healthy body weight, to reduce the risk of chronic disease and other health problems.[ii] And with the emphasis on mental health right now, physical activity can certainly improve mental health and well-being.[iii]
So what happens if children don’t exercise and are not involved in physical activity? According to the same website, they are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and other cardiovascular illnesses.[iv]
So how are we doing as a country? Are Canadian children involved in physical activity? I mean, they should be right, the benefits are obvious. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 40% of children and youth aged 5-17 met the physical activity target, which is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.[v] Childhood obesity rate seems to also be decreasing. In 2004, 35% of children aged 2-17 were either overweight or obese, whereas in 2017, 30% of children aged 5-17 were overweight or obese.[vi] We’re doing better, but can certainly do even better than that. But how?
Here are some of the ways to encourage physical activity as suggested by an article created by the Government of Canada regarding being active.[vii]
- Encourage them to walk or ride their bikes to school instead of taking the bus.
- Schedule active time for your children after school.
- Combine periods of moderate activity like walking or biking with periods of more vigorous activity such as running or playing soccer or tag.
- Activities like swimming, soccer, baseball, dancing, gymnastics, skiing, and basketball provide opportunities to learn new skills while having fun. Check with local schools and community centres for affordable programs.
- Balance the day with physical activities that are informal and unstructured, like playing tag or building a snowman. This is particularly important for children who tend to shy away from competition.
- Set a positive example by being physically active as a family. Plan regular outings to hike, cycle, walk, or skate.
- Remember to praise your children for being active. Confidence is the key to success![viii]
The more confident children are with their skills, the more they will be motivated to participate in other physical activities. TekyGo! helps children to build this confidence, by providing games that are age-appropriate and with lots of positive reinforcement throughout the gameplay. So let’s get kids moving and playing!
[i] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2016, Jan. 22). Children and Physical Activity. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
[ii] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2016, Jan. 22). Children and Physical Activity. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
[iii] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2016, Jan. 22). Children and Physical Activity. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
[iv] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2016, Jan. 22). Children and Physical Activity. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
[v] Statistics Canada. (2019, Apr. 17). Physical activity and screen time among Canadian children and youth, 2016 and 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00003-eng.htm
[vi] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2018, Feb. 18). Tackling obesity in Canada: childhood obesity in excess weight rates in Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/obesity-excess-weight-rates-canadian-children.html
[vii] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2019, Apr. 17). Physical activity in Screen Time among Canadian children and youth, 2016 and 2017. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html
[viii] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2019, Apr. 17). Physical activity in Screen Time among Canadian children and youth, 2016 and 2017. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/children-physical-activity.html