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Physical Activity - Children/Tweens

Being active for at least 60 minutes daily can help youth to:

  • Improve their health.
  • Do better in school.
  • Have fun playing with friends.
  • Improve self confidence.
  • Feel happier.
  • Learn new skills.

How can I help my child/tween to be physically active?

  • Make the activity fun.
  • Send them outside to play.
  • Be active all year round including the winter.
  • Replace time on the internet, in front of the TV, or playing video games with outdoor play time or sports like, soccer, hockey or playing frisbee.
  • Slowly start to build up to the 60 minutes a day.
  • Break the 60 minutes up into 10 minute chunks so not to overwhelm your child.

Easy ideas to be active with your kids:

  • Walk to the store.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Garden.
  • Dance to music.
  • Rent a canoe or kayak for an afternoon.
  • Go bowling.
  • Walk around a museum.
  • Bike on trails.

Here are some more fun and simple exercises you can do with your kids

What the Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for Children and Youth Say:

Youth aged 5 - 13 years should:

  • SWEAT: Get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. In addition:
    • Vigorous physical activities and muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated at least 3 days/week
    • More is better!
  • STEP: Have several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activity every day
  • SLEEP: Have 9 to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night with consistent bed and wake up times
  • SIT: Have no more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time. This includes:
    • Limited sitting for extended periods


Moderate physical activity will cause youth to sweat a little and breathe harder. Activities like: bike riding or playground activities.

Vigorous physical activity will cause youth to sweat and be “out of breath”. Activities like: running, basketball, soccer and swimming.

Parents: remember to think of safety at all times and ensure that your youth are wearing the appropriate sports equipment such as helmets, knee, elbow and wrist pads, etc.

Adapted from Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

The benefits of being physically active

Being active for at least 60 minutes daily can help youth:

  • Improve their health
  • Do better in school
  • Have fun playing with friends
  • Improve self confidence
  • Feel happier
  • Learn new skills

Check the Ontario Children's Outdoor Charter  and the Participaction website for more great ideas.

For more information please refer to the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (aged 5-17): An integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep.
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Did you know?

“69% of 5 to 11-year-olds in Canada, and 31% of 12 to 17 year-olds, meet the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Youth, which recommend daily screen time of no more than 2 hours”.

Active healthy kids 2013 Report Card, 2013

What is screen time?

The amount of time spent in front of an electronic device (televisions, computers, tablets, cell phones and video gaming equipment).

Screen time recommendations

Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (external link) recommend that recreational screen time be limited to no more than two hours per day for children between the ages of 5-11 and 12-17.

Developing healthy screen time habits

  • Set screen time limits according to the age and stage of your child.
  • Keep TVs, computers and gaming equipment in family spaces and out of children’s bedroom. You will be able to monitor their screen time more closely.
  • Turn electronics off during meal time. Show your kids the value of family time.
  • Turn off the TV while children are doing homework. TV on in the background interferes with children’s ability to concentrate.
  • Parents are powerful role models for their children. Lead by example by limiting your own screen time to less than 2 hours per day.

Ways to get your kids off the couch

  • Encourage your children to participate in active play (i.e. sports, hobbies, outdoor play) on their own, with friends or together as a family. Don’t forget to give them praise for being active!
  • Provide opportunities for your children. Find out your children’s interests. Do they like sports, dancing, martial arts…etc? They will be more inclined to participate in an activity if they get to choose.
  • Participate in activities with your children: go for a bike ride, build a snowman, or kick a soccer ball around. If your kids see that you don't mind sweating, they won't mind either.
  • Encourage active transportation. Instead of driving your child to school, encourage them to walk to school with a group of kids from the neighbourhood.
  • Teach your kids the value of physical activity. Being active is important to build strength, coordination, self-esteem, and to lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
  • Set goals together. Before sitting down to watch a movie, go for a family walk. Setting daily physical activity goals will help you create healthy habits and stick to your plan.
    • Aim to do something active for at least 60 minutes each day. You can split the time up to 30 min after school and 30 min after dinner.
  • Variety (in physical activity) is the spice of life! Keep physical activity interesting by alternating among several different activities so your kids don't get bored.
  • Store a variety of low-cost sporting equipment and games around the home. A collection of balls, frisbees, hula-hoops and skipping ropes can keep kids active for hours.

Additional Resources:

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