The COVID-19 pandemic has left most of us under stay-at-home orders for the past few months. Because of this, your kids may have been getting less exercise and physical activity. Now, with the summer season underway and the world re-opening, you may be wondering:

  • how you can motivate your children to be active and
  • how much physical activity they actually need to reap the maximum health benefits.

The Government of Canada notes that physical activity can help kids:

  • boost their heart health, strength, flexibility and bone density,
  • reduce the risk of chronic disease and health problems, and
  • improve their overall mood.

They recommend children from ages five to 17 get a certain amount of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. Here’s a breakdown by age group:

How much exercise do children age five to 11 need?

Children within this age range need at least 60 minutes of physical activity or active play daily.

It doesn’t need to happen all at once — two, three, or several “mini” periods of activity and play all count towards the hour they need each day. Aim for heart-pumping activities every day, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone (like skipping to school or jumping rope) at least three times a week.

How much exercise do teens age 12 to 17 need?

Youth within this age range also need at least 60 minutes of activity daily. They can also enjoy activities that strengthen muscle and bone (such as skipping, running, basketball, tennis) at least three times a week.

How to keep kids active

Do you have activities lined up for your kids this season? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Set aside time every day to be active as a family. Get your kids to join you on walks and bike rides. Even an after-dinner dog walk counts.

Limit screen time and encourage kids to choose active play instead.

Give your kids an easy-to-follow schedule with activities you know they’ll love, like dancing or playing sports.  

Take advantage of creating safe social and geographic bubbles* for your children. That will allow them some freedom, as well as much-needed social connections. 

*A social bubble is a circle of people who can interact with one another without physically distancing. The recommended number per bubble varies across the country. For example, in Ontario, the bubble must be a maximum of 10 peopleVisit your provincial or territorial government’s website for information and guidelines on creating social circles in your area. 

Finally, remember to be an active role model for your kids. Your kids are more likely to have healthy habits for life if they see their family members doing the same.

  • Has quarantine left you in a bit of a fitness rut? That’s OK. You can begin or slowly ease back into an exercise program whenever you want. Here’s how to start.

More on family fitness:

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