Get Active to Stay Healthy

Child learning to ice skate

Staying active is essential to your health for growth and development, disease prevention, strength, energy, and decreasing stress.

Whether we’re talking about healthy eating, staying active, getting sleep, or just doing things that make you happy, you are starting lifetime habits for your children. Set a great example, and your children won’t realize that there is any other way possible. And, of course, there shouldn’t be any other way. So, start now!

An adult needs to get at 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous activity in increments of at least 10 minutes each. Plus, we should all do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week. That’s 30 minutes a day. We would do even better to double that to 60 minutes per day or 5 hours per week.

Sixty minutes of moderate activity is roughly the health equivalent of 30 minutes of vigorous activity. Mix and match to reach the optimum level of activity.

Moderate means you break a sweat but you probably can’t sing your favorite song while you walk, dance, golf, play Frisbee, garden, do housework, ride a stationary bike, do yoga, take the stairs, actively play with your children, or go ice skating.

Vigorous activity means you are breathing hard and you can’t talk without pausing. This includes running, swimming laps, jumping rope, playing tennis, cross-country skiing, shoveling heavy snow, or taking an aerobics class.

Muscle-building doesn’t just mean lifting weights or going to the gym. You can do a lot of muscle building with resistance bands and homemade weights, such as handled jugs filled with rice or beans. I spent a lot of time lifting encyclopedias before I finally invested in weights.

Is your family already active? If so, you are in the minority, since only 10% of Canadian children already reach the suggested level of physical activity. Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines suggest that children need at least 90 minutes per day of activity.

But, don’t just watch them. Join in.

My working out is a source of entertainment for my older children, who are very active on their own at home and in organized classes, but when they were younger I found it easy to create a spontaneous dance party or frenzied 15-minute housecleaning sing-along. Just get them in the habit of moving, and you will be helping them create those healthy habits.


  • Where Do I Start? from the American Heart Association. It’s simple. You invest no more than the cost of a decent pair of shoes, and you reduce your health risk. “Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve hearth health.”
  • Start Walking Now. Tools for making a plan and tracking your activity, but don’t spend too much time planning. Get up! Just grab your kids and go walk for 30 minutes.
  • Physical Activity from the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Tips for Children (5-11 years old) from the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Tips for Youth (12-17 years old) from the Public Health Agency of Canada

Image © Gaja |

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