We’ve asked Sarah James, an Occupational Therapist at BC Children's Hospital, to help bust some common myths about being active.
Reality: Playing on sport teams is a great way for kids to get physically active, but it’s not likely that they will get 60 minutes of physical activity per day just by playing team sports. This is the same for organized individual sports, like horseback riding or swimming lessons.
It’s important to get physical activity in on days without practice or games too. This also gives a chance to do something different, which can help to build up a range of movement skills.
Free play is also a great way to get movement in and you can be creative with ways to boost the intensity of play.
Reality: There is no one optimal time to be active. The best time is the time that appeals to your child and fits into their schedule on a regular basis.
- Some people like to start their day with morning activity, while others find they have better energy for physical activity later in the day. Choose whatever works for your family.
- The one time to typically avoid is right before bed as this can impact sleep.
- Some children and youth (e.g. children with ADHD) may benefit from morning exercise before school to get their muscles moving, stimulate the brain, and get just the right amount of sensory input to help with the day ahead.
Reality: Although you start feeling somewhat tired during physical activity, you usually feel more energized afterwards.
Doing any regular physical activity can raise your overall energy levels and make you better able to handle everything you have to do during the day. Including movement breaks during the day is a great way to regulate energy levels and also to help with concentration.
"Feel-good" chemicals, known as endorphins, are released by the brain during physical activity and help to improve energy levels and mood.
Reality: There is no way to tell someone’s fitness by their body shape or size.
- Being fit means that you have a strong and healthy heart, lungs, muscles, bones and joints.
- People of all different shapes and sizes can be fit and strong. It’s also important to remember that even if your weight does not change with exercise, you can still be fitter and stronger as a result. Your body can be healthier on the inside, without you noticing a physical change.
Reality: Any activity is better than no activity. Being physically active is important for heart health, strong muscles and bones, and is known to reduce stress.
Even if you can’t make it out for a bike ride or go to the park every day, you can usually do something active. Taking a walk, or climbing the stairs instead of hopping on the escalator, all count!
Aiming for 60 minutes of physical activity each day can seem overwhelming and for some families. The good news is that any activity is good, more is better, and everything counts.
Short bursts of physical activity are great ways to build up activity over the day. Try to find small windows of time to add activity into your day, such as a 20 minute burst of outdoor play or walking instead of driving to local places. Even 2 x 20 minute bursts of activity daily adds up to over 4 hours in the week!