As a kid, you played Capture the Flag. Kids today are playing Call of Duty. The premise of each game is similar. The difference: One is done outdoors, and involves running and jumping and fake shooting…while the other requires a couch. And maybe a sugary soda, as an accessory.
It’s an old story: kids don’t get enough physical activity. What’s scary is the new research that proves it: Here in Canada, for example (a country with a lot of outdoors), only nine per cent of boys and four per cent of girls meet the new Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which state that children and youth should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily
The impact of this trend is both immediate (the rise of childhood obesity and diabetes is alarming) and lifelong (lifestyle patterns start young and inactive kids generally turn into inactive adults).
So how can you get your kids off the couch this New Year?
“Exercise for kids doesn’t mean hitting the treadmill,” explains Stephanie Joanne, who is currently training the cast of the hit high school series Degrassi, including stars Jessica Tyler and Raymond Ablack.
Simply running around playing hide-and-seek or kicking around a ball shouldn’t be viewed as frivolous.
Simple daily physical activity like this improves stamina, agility, strength and coordination in kids.
“Think of exercise for kids as simply moving their bodies. Let them decide how they want to be physically active. Maybe it’s throwing a Frisbee, joining a sports team, joining a dance class or simply jumping on a trampoline.”
Joanne, also an Extreme Fitness personal trainer, recommends exposing children to as many different forms of activity as possible.
“This way, they can choose which ones they enjoy,” she says. One easy way to get kids moving around is through dance.
“It’s much more effective to tell kids to dance to their favourite songs than to ask them to stay on cardio equipment,” she says, adding, “If they don’t like dancing, they can skip to their favourite songs.”
And if your little ones are technology obsessed, replace Call of Duty with games that require users to get up and move around.
“Kids’ fitness DVDs and Playstation games are readily available these days,” says Joanne.