Fitting it in…Making Time for Physical Activity

It happens to all families….we’re bored, annoyed with school/work or just simply feeling tired and lazy. Or, the opposite: we’re so busy that getting enough activity just doesn’t seem possible. So, what can you do when this happens?

Canada’s 24 hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth recommend at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity while incorporating vigorous physical activities and muscle & bone strengthening activities 3 times per week. The guidelines also recommend several hours of structured and unstructured light physical activities per day.  Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (18-64) recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

Fitting in this much physical activity every day seems like a lot, but it has a ton of benefits, like:

  • Better mood, fun factor, increased energy and decreased stress
  • Better fitness, endurance, flexibility, balance and agility
  • Sharper brains – physical activity helps increase your memory and focus
  • Improved overall health

And all the minutes don’t have to be done at once – it can be smaller bouts of physical activity that are added up over the course of the day or week.

Here are five quick tips to help fit in physical activity:

  1. Plan for success. As a family think about what you want to achieve and set steps to get there.  Think about things like:
    • What are we doing that can contribute to being physically active every day?
    • What new things do we want to try? Where can we find out more about these physical activities?
    • How will we get activity in everyday? What will we do if we find it challenging?
  2. Keep track of your progress. Plans aren’t any good if you don’t keep track of them. The best way? Get the kids involved in writing down your family goals and tracking them.
  3. Set family activity times. When is everyone available? Times like after dinner or Saturday mornings. What are things we can do together? Walking/hiking, biking, swimming, free or low cost programs at local recreation centre, playgrounds etc.
  4. Start with small changes. Be patient with your progress. Making changes in life takes time. If you or your children are learning a new activity, that also takes time and practice. Small steps make it easier to get used to the changes in your life.
  5. Get together with other families. It’s a great way to make physical activity fun and it helps keep everyone on track with being active.

Vegetable Side Dishes Make Holiday Meals Shine

Food background. Fresh vegetables, fruits, blank notepad on a dark background.

Excerpt from Healthy Families BC Blog Dec 5, 2017 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

(original blog

You have the turkey covered, now what do you serve with it?

Side dishes are where the magic is. They make your meal shine! Here are some tips to help plan a meal you, your family, and friends won’t soon forget.

Start your holiday dinner with a salad that will get your taste buds singing. What about a Roasted Beet, Walnut and Arugula Salad or a Balsamic Pear and Candied Pecan Salad? If salad isn’t your thing, why not a soup? Try Red Bell Pepper & Nutmeg Soup or Spiced Up Butternut Squash Soup?

Next, plan the stuffing and hot vegetable dishes to accompany your turkey. Stuffing is often considered to be the turkey’s wingman (pun intended). Many people limit the stuffing’s ability to Wow! by making the same recipe every year. There are so many options to choose from—traditional recipes flavoured with onion, celery, and herbs; combinations of diced apple or pear; dried cranberries, prunes, or raisins; leeks or shallots; various kinds of mushrooms; toasted walnuts or cashews; the list goes on and on.

The trick to picking side dishes is to look for flavours you enjoy. Then try to get a variety of textures and colours so that each dish is distinct from the others. What looks good and smells good has a lot to do with how much you enjoy it.

Here are some vegetable side dishes worth considering:

Your imagination is the only limitation to what you pick for dinner. But remember, not every dish needs to be something new. Adding new dishes to some of your family traditions is a great way to reinvent your festive holiday meal. Hopefully by now you’re a little bit hungry and ready to start planning! Best wishes to you for a delicious meal and a wonderful holiday season.

The 5-2-1-0 Rule and How to Live by It

Introducing a healthier lifestyle to your child can seem a little daunting. With the 5-2-1-0 rule though, not only can it help your entire family become healthier, it can be an empowering and rewarding experience. The 5-2-1-0 rule follows four simple guidelines that encourage every aspect of a healthier lifestyle.

“5” is the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that your child should aim to eat each day. Vegetables and fruit provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants important for promoting and protecting good health.

Fruits and vegetables are easy to incorporate into one’s diet; it’s especially important to serve during every meal or snack your child has. Salads, smoothies, stews, and vegetable stocks are some of the easy dishes that you and your child can enjoy.

“2” is the maximum number of hours of recreational screen time that your child should have per day.  One way to prevent too much screen time is not to allow your child to have a television in their room. In reducing the number of hours of screen time, this will aid in encouraging a more active lifestyle.

“1” is the ideal number of hours of physical activity your child should have per day. Physical activity can improve your child’s physical and mental health. Sixty minutes of moderate physical activity – or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity – can be achieved through fun and engaging activities for your child, such as tag games, playing outdoors, biking, hiking, or a game of soccer. Being active together as a family can further encourage an increase in physical activity. Family outings such as going to the zoo, ice skating, or miniature golf will not only help your child be more active, but also aid in positioning parents as positive and engaged role models.

“0” is the number of sugary drinks your child should consume. Keep beverages like water handy and avoid such sugar-added drinks like slushies, sports drinks, soda, energy drinks and flavoured milks. While some juices do not have added sugars, they do contain natural sugars. In order to fulfill five or more servings a day, pack your child fresh fruit as opposed to a juice box.

The 5-2-1-0 rule makes introducing and following a healthy lifestyle simple, in that it outlines an easy-to-follow set of guidelines. It also directly aligns with the Family Healthy Living Program.

The program supports families in making changes to healthy behaviours such as healthy eating, physical activity, screen time and sleep that support your child’s own health behaviours. The program is focused on practical, fun activities that build family connectedness while building both the parent/caregiver’s and the child’s skills to make lasting changes. The program also incorporates positive mental health activities that build resilience and self confidence and help to enhance overall well-being.

Living a healthy lifestyle can greatly affect the overall wellbeing of a child, from his or her happiness to setting a healthy tone for your child’s entire life. Introducing a young child to the 5-2-1-0 rule will encourage him or her to continue these practices into the child’s teenage and adult years.

The Family Healthy Living Program is currently available in 10 communities in British Columbia and is delivered at local recreation centres by trained leaders who will support your family in the changes to your physical activity and eating habits.

Learn more about the Family Healthy Living  program, including how your family can benefit and programs running near you.