Lifestyle Reviews

Get Outside and Amp Up the Activity Level

Most of us enjoy a little recreational screen time, be it our television, computer or iPhone. But, too much screen time can be detrimental. With so many kids having their own phone, iPad, tablets, computers, etc.; the abundance of screen time they indulge in is making them amount the least active people on the planet.

The latest report shares that Canadian kids get a D-minus grade for their level of physical activity. This is the fourth straight year in a row they’ve received this lowly grade. This menial grade comes from a study which showed children in Canada rank near the bottom of a group of 37 countries regarding physical activity. Sadly, we’re in good or should I say bad company, along with US, England, Australia and Spain. Who’s leading the way? Slovenia, with an A-minus; 86% of the boys and 76% of the girls are receiving a sufficient amount of physical activity.

In Canada, a derisory 9% of young people ages 5 – 17 are getting the recommended minimum of 60 minutes of daily, heart-thumping activity, but it doesn’t have to stay this way. In Canada, the challenge is to shift from the social norm of a culture of convenience to a culture of encouraging and embracing physical activity. But, in order to be successful, we need to create a norm where physical activity is natural and our first choice by default.

Doing so will require leadership from adults, parents, school officials and policymakers, to help encourage a more active lifestyle because kids aren’t likely to make this decision on their own volition. But if kids can be encouraged to be more active in ways that are fun, they will be more likely to carry this habit on into adulthood.

Going back to Slovenia, physical education is a well-established part of the school system, and physical activity is a cultural norm. We need to follow their example. In Zimbabwe, 80 % of the children use active transportation like walking and biking, instead of motorized transport to go to school compared to 25% of Canadian kids. So this is a good indicator that other forms of activity need to be included in their day.

Just so you know, this isn’t a competition to see which country has the fittest kids. It’s about health, and a lack of physical activity which is a contributor to obesity, diabetes, and other associated health problem. Getting kids to reduce their screen time isn’t a case of being mean; it’s a matter of making their health a priority. It’s up to us as parents, and school officials to help make physical activity the new cultural norm. The benefits are innumerable.

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Now with the cold weather during the holiday season, encourage your kids to ski, skate, or snowshoe. Get outside with your children and make it a family outing.

17 Comments

  • Wow. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I’m honestly not surprised. I try to limit the amount of screen time my kids get, and make sure they get outside and do something that requires them to use their imagination.

  • Guilty! Yep, the Disney Channel, YouTube Kids & Netflix are way too popular to our 5 yr. old granddaughter. Luckily, she really enjoys being outside & the playground at the nearby grammar school is visited frequently!

  • I can’t stand when my son is on his video games for so long. I usually limit an hour or so because he can literally play all day if he could. I’m amazed it’s crazy sometimes.

  • Some schools are beginning to realize the value of exercise to learning. One school starts the day with 20 minutes of exercise. This has resulted in higher marks in math, especially. Hopefully, more educators will notice the body-mind connection and get on the exercise bandwagon.

  • yes, everyone is spending too much time on their pc, phones, etc. we had recess, for exercise, which schools have now done away with many yrs ago. kids no longer get exercise or get out. you need to get away from the stress of school and electronics.

  • There’s times I imagine if I my family had the funds would I find a way to escape from constantly using the television, computer or iPhone. Most of the time is often with a book or pen & paper and as a child I had few friends and almost never got selected for PE activities so coaches often times had sent me to run borders of the field while other’s played in certain games (basketball, football, tennis, archery etc.) !But, then I began to request to stay in the media center which got me sitting in front of computers; later I have been reminded that too much screen time can be detrimental.

  • I live on a farm and never had a problem getting my boys outside. Now my granddaughters love to come to the farm and run around outside.

  • today’s generation are sadly all about gadgets so sad NOT my family and yes we are few but we are a active family into sports and every weekend we go to our local bird sanctuary and we snowshoe as a family so fun and peaceful I love taking beautiful pics of nature too

  • I boot the grand-kids outside a couple of times a week if it’s not to cold right now it is but kids today are always on pc laptops phones etc not like the old days my kids were outside all the time and we always lived on a army base and it was way safer to do so. Allot has changed today.

  • I was very pleasantly surprised the other day when I heard a little knock at the front door. I opened it to find a young boy of about 9 or 10 years old who asked me if he could shovel my drive way. I asked him how much he charged and he said whatever I wanted. I really admired his initiative. Since I didn’t have change to pay him I dropped some money off at his house later that day and met his mother. She said that her son didn’t have anything to do so she suggested that he go shovel sidewalks & told him not to ask for any money. I admire both mother and son!

  • These statistics don’t surprise me. My kids don’t have their “own” devices yet, and I’m putting it off as long as I can. They spend enough time on the TV/desktop as it is. Getting them outside in the winter can be hard sometimes, but I figured out if it’s something mom or dad are joining in on, they are much more likely to want to do it. 🙂

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