Be Role Models, Be The Change

It’s evidently clear, a large number of Canadian kids are failing to make the grade when it comes to reaching the recommended physical activity targets for children and youth; at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day. Less hours are being devoted to active play and instead too much time is being spent fixated in front of TVs, electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones, on the computer, and playing video games.

Now how about you, how do you fare in terms of physical activity? Are you meeting the minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week as per the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommended for adults aged 18-64. If not, current research suggests your physical inactivity problem is playing a significant part in Canada’s physical inactivity epidemic which has been plaguing and endangering our nation’s children and youth for over a decade.

This is your call to action. According to new research conducted by the University of Essex in the UK, research shows that kids who perceive their parents as being inactive have a 50% greater risk of being unfit themselves in comparison to children with more physically active parents.

Curious to learn more? The study began by asking 4,000 school kids to rate how physically active they believed their parents to be. They then had these same children perform a simple cardio respiratory fitness test called the bleep test and compared results. This was done to determine if there was a correlation between a kid’s perception of their parents physical activity levels and these students own fitness levels.

The results were shocking! One quarter, so about 1,000, of the children, were unable to pass this basic cardio respiratory fitness test. Even more shocking was the correlation of these unfit kids and their response regarding the perceived physical activity level of their parents. The kids who cited their parents as not being physically active were much more likely to be physically inactive themselves.

This research highlights the importance of parents needing to act as role models for their children in all ways. It’s rather simple, parents need to be seen as physically active themselves in order to role model and show their kids how to live healthy, active lives.

Important to know is that we don’t need to be professional athletes to be good role models for our children. Instead, all we need is for our children to see us as being physically active ourselves. We accomplish this by wielding our omni-present tool of choice and by choosing to take action! Don’t go tell or force your kids to be active, instead just go do it; you lead the charge. There are two approaches to accomplish this.

First, go get physically active yourself and have your kids be aware of you setting your personal health and wellbeing as a priority. Whether this be Yoga in the living room, playing basketball in the driveway, lifting dumbbells in the basement, playing in an adult rec hockey league, or enjoying yourself a round of golf at your local course; do something because your children notice.

Second, go have fun getting physically active with your kids. Anything from going around the neighborhood on a family bike ride together, playing soccer in the backyard, tossing around a football, going for a swim together at the beach, or ice skating at the local outdoor rink, get active with your kids. The key takeaway here is to take charge and lead with action! Be the change, your children are noticing.

So there you have it, an imperative solution to our nation’s child and youth physical inactivity epidemic is rather simple, because the ultimate solution is you! It all starts with your decision to get healthy yourself. It doesn’t have to start huge, you can start small and work from there. The time for action is now, our future generations are depending on us. What are you going to do? How are you going to lead the change?

Derek Pang

Regional Coordinator for Prairies & Territories, BOKS Canada