While most children and youth who grew up a generation or two ago spent time after school in active play – running, biking, and playing outside with their friends, researchers agree this is not the case today because there has been a substantial decline in play over the last 50-60 years. Today’s children and youth have adopted a lifestyle that includes spending a lot of after-school time (between 3 & 6pm) sitting idle indoors. This leaves youth vulnerable to increased sedentary pursuits and risky behaviours.
The annual Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card in 2011 (PDF) focused on recommendations for increasing physical activity for children and youth during this critical after-school period. Here are some important considerations for parents, caregivers and school communities.
- Get Outside with Room to Move – Children who are outside during the after-school period take about 2,000 more steps per day than those who are indoors, which is about the same amount of physical activity as walking 2 kilometers!
- Get Involved in Family Physical Activity – Children and youth who receive greater parental support for physical activity, and who have parents who rate physical activity as highly enjoyable, are more likely to engage in more physical activity.
- Consider Organized Sports – Children and youth who participate in organized sport take 1600 more steps per day.
- Ask About School Community Partnerships – Effective partnerships between schools and those who offer sport, recreation and school-aged childcare have demonstrated success with engaging students in programs at nearby facilities.
Click here (PDF) for tips on keeping kids active in the after-school period from ParticipACTION.
Click here for fun after school activity ideas from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Click here (PDF) for information about access to affordable, inclusive recreational activities from the Child Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County.