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Quick tips for getting active

BY DEANNA BETTERIDGE
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, September / October 2010

It's that time of year again. Summer's over, the kids are back at school and the television networks are about to unveil enough new "must see" TV shows to consume all of your free time.

True, the luminous glow of the big screen TV and its endless hours of dramas, comedies, reality shows and sports programming can be hard to resist, especially after a hard day around the home or at work.

But before you succumb to the latest episode of Glee or American Idol, take a moment and ask yourself this: Have I made time for some physical activity with my family?

It's an important question, one that could have significant implications for the long-term physical and mental health of you and your family. Here's why.

Study after study shows that being physically active 30 to 60 minutes a day has many benefits for each member of your family. Exercise can reduce the risk for chronic disease, strengthen bones and muscles, help maintain a healthy weight, increase energy, and improve sleep patterns.

Physical activity can also help your child perform better in school by increasing his or her ability to focus in class. Being active can also provide mental health benefits. Increased patience, improved ability to deal with stress, better emotional control, decreased anxiety and reduced risk of depression - these are just some of the benefits that can come from physical activity.

It's also important to note that you can be a good role model for your kids. Research shows that parental support and attitudes play a huge role in their children's attitudes towards physical activity and the amount of physical activity they participate in. In other words, if you are active, your child will likely be active, and that will have a positive effect on their health as they grow older.

So now that you know how important it is to be active, what can you do about it?

Well, you can start by scheduling some family physical activity time. Set aside time in the calendar, just like you do for meals, homework, and appointments, for structured and unstructured active family time.

Being a parent means something different to everyone, and is based on a whole host of variables. But I feel pretty confident in saying that each parent wants the best for their children. By ensuring that you and your child are physically active on a daily basis, you are doing one more thing to ensure your child lives a happy and healthy life.

Deanna Betteridge is a co-ordinator with Winnipeg in motion.

Wave

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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