Like many Canadians, we at Health Nexus are excited by the arrival of summer. The warmer weather offers a variety of opportunities for kids to be active outside.
Playing outside offers preschoolers the opportunity to practice and master emerging physical skills. When outdoors, children can freely experience and develop motor skills like running, climbing and jumping.
Physical activity is an essential part of healthy development in children and the early years are the best time to give a child an active start; setting them on the path to developing a lifelong habit of active living.
The sad truth is, physical activity levels in children start to decline as early as age 3. By the time they start school, less than 20% of children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
If current trends in childhood obesity persist, by 2040 up to 70% of today’s children will be overweight or obese adults, placing them at increased risk for heart disease, cancer, strokes, psychosocial problems and type 2 diabetes.
But we can all help make a difference for the children in our lives. Whether you are a parent, grandparent or someone who works with children, you can help them develop positive attitudes toward physical activity, including moving every day.
With funding from the Lawson Foundation, the Best Start Resource Centre, a key Health Nexus program, has developed an online resource for anyone involved with children 0-6 years old to provide them with the tools needed to be able to promote and encourage physical activity.
For information, tips, and activity ideas to help kids get the physical activity they need to be healthy, visit the Have a Ball Together! website at haveaballtogether.ca; also available in French at avousdejouerensemble.ca.
Physical activity does more than simply improve health, allowing children to play and experiment with movement is also an important part of physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.
So this weekend, why not explore a local playground, chase bubbles or host your own backyard Olympics?