Families Who Play Together…

dad and son playing soccer outside

Being active as a family strengthens not only everyone’s heart, lungs, bones and muscles, but also your relationships with one another. Families who play together talk, laugh, sing and enjoy. They develop mutual interests, cheer each other on and develop a teamwork mentality.

And there's more. Parents struggling to find time to be active and spend time with their children can combine the two – a great way to role model being active.

Tips for getting active as a family

  1. Set goals for physical activity together and schedule them in your calendar. Start small and make goals realistic.
  2. Take turns choosing an activity for the whole family to do. Pick an activity each day or each week.
  3. Try a new activity each season. Snowshoe, curl, go birdwatching, hike, bowl or go camping.
  4. Try 10 minutes. Get your heart beating faster, even for just 10 minutes at a time - play your favourite music and shake it up!
  5. Try an active fundraiser. They are great ways to be active together while teaching children about helping the community.
  6. Find out where you can be active near home. Make a list of walking trails, recreation centres, bike paths, provincial parks, conservation authorities, pick-your-own farms and local parks.
  7. Join in community festivals. Read the paper and watch for flyers announcing special events.
  8. Leave the car at home. Walk, wheel or cycle for short trips or family outings.
  9. Plan active vacations. Go on a camping trip or build some active days into your trip, such as a day at the beach or a golf lesson.
  10. Turn off ALL screens - TVs, video games, computers, personal digital assistants - and go outside. We tend to be more active outdoors.
  11. Walk, climb, run, throw, build, dance, toss, hit balls, kick balls, chase, hop, jump, roll, dig, shovel& get moving!

Make it easy to be active anytime!

These items are equipment and toys to keep around the house to promote physical activity:

  • badminton racquets
  • table tennis paddles
  • baseball equipment
  • skipping ropes
  • hula hoops
  • plastic pails
  • beanbags
  • plastic bowling set or bocce balls
  • music for dancing
  • balls of all sizes
  • frisbees

TIPS: Lightweight (usually plastic) equipment is inexpensive and safer for younger children. Keep everything organized in storage bins.

Affordable sports equipment*

  • Go to garage sales and second-hand sports stores that sell gently used equipment such as bikes, ice skates, in-line skates, cross-country skis, snowshoes, baseball gloves and bats, and balls for different sports (e.g., soccer).
  • Buy equipment and clothing that are the previous year’s models.
  • Organize a sports swap at your child's school or start a donation box for used equipment.
  • Avoid buying equipment for your child to "grow into." Proper fit is important.
  • Improvise. Use clothing as pylons and emptied, clean two-litre juice containers as bowling pins.
  • Always buy new helmets. You cannot tell if a used one is damaged.

*Families on the Move, City of Hamilton, Public Health Services, 2002

Build in short activity breaks on days you are not active together

Don't forget the benefits of a short activity break. A short walk after dinner can:

  • Provide time to talk and reconnect as a family
  • Energize everyone for after-dinner activities
  • Show how easy it is to be active
  • Teach children that physical activity is an important family value

Find out more

Active Healthy Kids Canada
Canada's Physical Activity Guides for Children and Youth, Public Health Agency of Canada
Family TLC, The Nation's Network of Child Care Resource and Referral
Families on the Move, Niagara Region Health  

Last Update – February 7, 2019

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