Fitness Dad or Mindful Mom? Inspiring children to keep fit


Talking with a counsellor can help. client login 1866 833-7690  children’s support

Father playing soccer with sonChildren should be encouraged to participate in and explore physical activities that are safe, enjoyable and contribute to their natural development and curiosity. The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommends that children aged 5-11 years old should accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

Unfortunately, Statistics Canada has found that less than 10 percent of children are meeting this current guideline. A part of this problem is a seemingly disconnect between how much activity parents believe their children attain versus the actual output. The solution? Try to become more aware of your child’s day and activities: aim to decrease or limit sedentary behaviour at home, provide appropriate opportunities for increased involvement in fitness, and expose children to physical activity through modeling your own awareness and enjoyment of fitness.

As parents who are concerned about the lack of activity our children’s lives, it’s important to know that there are numerous ways to get kids off the couch and moving.   First and foremost, however, children will learn this best through example. Placing a high value on fitness and movement in general, as well as caring about your own physical activity, are vital steps to get and keep your kids active.

Strategies to help inspire your children to keep fit include:

  • Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day (such as TV, computer, video games)
  • Get outside with your children regardless of the season
  • Encourage your child to select a sport and spend time in the backyard or local park developing their skills or inventing a new fun game
  • Be a role model and invite your kids to join in on family walks, bike rides, yard work, and even dancing along to some favourite tunes
  • Follow your child’s lead and enjoy a nature walk. Take pictures of all the places you visit and the collection will grow.

Where applicable, help your children plan their time to allow for extra activities around homework and support this venture together. From playing ball or Frisbee, cycling to the corner to mail a letter or taking the stairs and counting your way up or down, the ideas are almost limitless. For a more specific goal oriented approach, planning a family fun day and training for the event can be very successful. Children can choose the event, make posters for the house, and then train together for a walk/run or backyard obstacle course that is safe, age appropriate and involves the entire family. Physical activity does not have to be formal exercise. Creativity and family time can happen anytime and anywhere when parents and role models maintain awareness of activity levels and lead the way.


By Jacqueline Leibovitch. Jacqueline holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. A former soccer and tennis player, Jacqueline has been a certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years and is also certified in Early Childhood Education. After many years working in a post rehabilitation setting, Jacqueline has specialized in health enhancement and weight management consulting. Jacqueline is a member of the Shepell Fitness Coach Connects Team.


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