Youth Physical Activity: No sports, no problem!

by Mathew Benvie from Evolve Fitness

I tried writing this article three or four times and each time I got two paragraphs in, read it over and deleted everything.  I tried to take an academic approach and explain what is going on in the world today in regard to obesity but that did not work.  The fact is plain and simple: North Americans are FAT and it is starting earlier in life then it ever has.

That is the last negative thing I will say as I am very sympathetic to childhood obesity and will do anything I can to take part in the solution. This article is designed for parents who are looking to help themselves and their kids towards healthy living.  When I was a kid, there was no internet and very few video games, so we went outside and played sports or other games almost everyday.  Now that we have the internet, video games and cell phones, children are indoors more often and a lot less active.

So what do we do about this? Throw your kids in sports and all will be well? That seems like simple solution, right?  While I do believe sports are a great option, some kids don’t thrive in an athletic environment which can lead to a decreased self-esteem and a lack of sense of belonging among their peers.  So what can you do as parents to help your kids lead a healthy and active life?

*Disturbing Stat of the day: 25% percent of children don’t participate in physical activity because their parents won’t let them.

Wii Sports: If they are going to be in the house playing video games, why not play some that have some fitness benefits?  Encourage your kids to play games that involve them to be up and moving around with the controllers (ie. boxing).

Non-Athletic Group Activities: There are a TON of these out there and way too many for me to list here.  Those living in Halifax can use this site as your guide  It is a comprehensive list of what goes on recreationally in HRM and how you can get involved!

Personal Training: Yes that is right, your kid can workout and fitness is fun!  For older kids, try hiring a personal trainer.  They will improve their self image and form a relationship with their trainer who can act as a big brother or sister to them!  Try having your kid go to a trainer with a friend and save money!  For young kids, you can look at after school fitness programs.  Again, the HRM website is a great tool to find out where these are going on (for those who don’t live in HRM, contact your local recreation director).

Diet: Set a good example for your kids and eat nutritious foods along with them.  Consult Canada’s food guide for guidelines on healthy eating.  If you need more explanation, look up a dietician who will explain to you step by step how you can improve your eating habits.

Keep in mind that just being active EVERYDAY is the key.  Encourage your kids to go outside and play like we all did when we were kids.  Go for walks with them, jump rope or do whatever is fun!  As a whole, we need to spend less time in front of a “flickering screen” (TV, video games, computer) and more time being active.

My name is Mathew Benvie and I am the owner of Evolve Fitness.  I completed my Human Kinetics degree at St. FX in 2009.  During my studies, I took courses in Child Growth and Development and Health Education which complemented my two personal training certifications.  I volunteered countless hours in Antigonish alongside passionate professors who believed in helping kids in the community be physically active.  Everyone is a winner when we work together to achieve a healthy lifestyle!  For anyone who would like more information on how they can get their kid active, please feel free to contact me at or call 902-456-4018.  You can also visit my website at and follow me on Twitter @evolvefitness.

Filed under: Fitness, Healthy Living

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