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.