Encouraging a positive attitude toward physical activity — Tips from AboutKidsHealth

With nicer weather upon us, there are a lot of opportunities for children to get up and get moving. This is why summer is a great time to start making physical activity part of your child’s regular routine. Making exercise a routine early on and when it’s easier makes it more likely children will get up and get moving when it might be most difficult to find motivation and when physical activity would be most helpful.

Guidelines for children and teens

According to the Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth, children should be getting at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day (such as dancing, running, biking) and several hours of light-intensity activities (such as playing, walking, doing chores).

Regular physical activity offers a range of physical and mental health benefits. For example, it helps children develop movement skills, build stronger muscles and bones and concentrate better in school.

Benefits of organized sports

Organized sports offer even more benefits, such as increased self-esteem and improved social skills and self-discipline. On top of that, organized sports follow a schedule, making it an easy way to make exercise part of a child’s routine, which helps children develop a lifelong habit of physical activity.

Organized sports include both team sports and solo sports. Both offer benefits, but one may be better than the other depending on your child’s personality. For example, more assertive children might prefer a group atmosphere, while more reserved children might prefer individual sports. The important thing is to find a sport that your child enjoys so they will be more likely to stick with it.

No matter the activity, focusing on fun and fitness instead of on winning or losing helps promote a positive attitude toward sports.

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on the benefits of physical activity and other health topics, visit aboutkidshealth.ca