iStock_000001211300XSmall.jpgWhile most parents of young kids today walked to school when they were children, the majority of kids today are driven in a car.


Just 24 percent of Canadian kids routinely take ‘active modes’ (walk, bike, rollerblading, etc.) to school each day, with 62 percent using only inactive modes of transportation.


Those were just some of the findings presented by Kristi Adamo, a healthy kids expert with CHEO (a pediatric health and research center in Ottawa). She was speaking at the Let’s Get Moving: A Prescription for Healthier Kids breakout session at the People for Education conference.


As preschoolers, kids are pretty active. But once they start school, only seven percent meet the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of activity every day. Adamo explains this trend further in this video:


Physical inactivity and poor fitness are independent risk factors for physical and mental health problems down the line, Adamo says.


The key is to get kids moving in any way you can, from an early age.


Steps Parents Can Take


Adamo suggests the following ideas to help get kids and families moving:

  • Encourage and support your kids in walking to school

  • Arrange walking shuttles with other parents

  • Take family Zumba, hip hop dance and other classes

  • Take the kids rock climbing at a rock climbing facility

  • Take the kids to play laser tag

  • Visit roller and skateboard parks

  • Participate in a city chase event as a family

  • Get the kids to wash the car and weed the lawn

  • Encourage kids to play tag

  • Be a role model; model an active lifestyle


Parents can also use the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines put together by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) to help keep their kids on track:


Physical Activity Guidelines (ages 0-4)
  • Toddlers and preschoolers should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity of any intensity spread throughout the day;

  • They should participate in activities that develop movement skills;

  • They should progress toward at least 60 minutes of energetic play by age 5.

Physical Activity Guidelines (ages 5-11)

  • Kids should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity daily; (Vigorous means your child will have difficulty speaking while doing the activity)

  • They should participate in vigorous-intensity activities at least 3 days per week;

  • Kids should participate in activities that will strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week.

Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (ages 0-4)

  • For healthy growth and development, the time preschoolers spend being sedentary should be limited during waking hours;

  • These children should not be in strollers or highchairs for more than an hour at a time;

  • For those under age 2, screen time is not recommended;

  • For children aged 2-4, screen time should be limited to under one hour per day, and less is better.

Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (ages 5-11)

  • Limit recreational screen time to just two hours per day;

  • Limit motorized transport, extended sitting and time spent indoors throughout the rest of the day.