What is physical activity?

Physical activity refers to any activity that gets children moving, makes their breathing become quicker, and their hearts beat faster. Children can be physically active in many different ways, at any time of day. Sedentary behaviour is time when children are doing very little physical movement. This includes sitting for long periods of time watching television or playing on tablets, computers, or phones. Replacing your children’s sedentary time with even light physical activity can have health benefits. Help children sit less and stand up for better health.

How much time should my children spend being active?

Children and adolescents should accumulate a minimum of 1 hour of physical activity daily*. The 60 minutes doesn’t have to be done all in one go. You can build it up so your child accumulates the physical activity over the day. Daily physical activity can include free play, games, sports, transportation (walking, cycling), recreation, and physical education.

How can I get my children to be active?

Your child learns the most about healthy active living from you. Children mirror us so it’s up to us to create the right surrounding and the daily routine. Give your child lots of time to be active in both structured activities, like organized sports, and unstructured activities, like skipping rope and playing in a playground. Kids and teens spend hours every day in front of a screen (TVs, smartphones, tablets, and other devices) looking at a variety of media (TV shows, videos, movies, games). Too much screen time and not enough physical activity add to the problem of childhood obesity. One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or other screens.

TIPS for encouraging physical activity

1. Choose activities your child likes and that are fun 2. Make sure there's lots of variety and your child tries different things 3. Build physical activity into your child's day – for example, by walking or cycling to school or to a friend’s house. 4. Get your child involved in activities around the house: carrying the groceries, washing the car or helping in the garden 5. Encourage your children to take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. 6. Set limits on how much time your children and teens spend in front of a screen, keeping them in the loop while deciding the time slot; if they have a say in the schedule, they are more likely to follow it. 7. Keep TVs, computers, and video games out of children's bedrooms. 8. Turn off screens during mealtimes. 9. Be active yourself and involve the whole family.