Lynn Easton.

Early On: Climbing on Participaction bandwagon

Little ones should be getting 180 minutes of exercise a day.

Last week, I spent less than an hour alone with a small friend of mine and, in that time, we climbed a volcano, dove to the bottom of the ocean, built a submarine, and conducted a rescue over the edge of a treacherous waterfall.

I’m still exhausted.

And it wasn’t just my imagination that got a workout. My friend was in constant movement while his mind raced from one world to another. His little leg and arm muscles were getting as big a workout as his big brain.

Truth is, we were working up quite a sweat and I kept hoping it was time for a quiet book in a big cushy armchair. But no luck. Is it any wonder frontline parents – and often grandparents – choose to put these energizer bunnies behind a screen once in a while?

While the ubiquitous screens are practical lifesavers at the time, the good folks at Participaction are telling us that they may be, at least partially, responsible for latest D+ grade in physical activity for Canada’s preschoolers.

According to the experts over at Participaction, our little ones should be getting 180 minutes of exercise a day. That’s right – every day. That’s more than two hours of volcano climbing, and I am exhausted just thinking about it.

But when I consider those numbers, they make sense. Those little people are so hungry for knowledge in their busy lives they could go for double that if we had the stamina. They run all day inside. They love the outdoors. They can build worlds with nothing more than a cardboard box.

They. Never. Stop.

We’ve just forgotten that, I think.

They are supposed to be a little squirrely, a little attention deprived. They’ve got a lot going on inside their little minds. And all that physical activity is also good for their brains, creating new pathways that help in the social and cognitive growth.

Plus, they enjoy moving around in their own worlds. Have you watched the Youtube video of the four-year-old on the ice somewhere in Canada? He’s proof that we don’t really need to organize them into exercise. They are happy moving around in their own worlds. We just need to give them space and time.

It’s time that we are lacking these days. Who has a couple of hours to let their kid run around? Not many of us. So, there’s help.

Your child can hang out at any of the community Strong Start locations. You can even get them moving before they walk at classes such as Mother Goose.

But even without all of this wonderful help, I think the message is getting out about the need to get our youngest citizens moving. Parents are catching on to how a good start will lead to a more active childhood and adult life.

A physical literacy makes kids scompetent and confident in themselves. I often notice a hint of joy on the faces of these kids. They are moving. They are fit. They are free.

It might take everything I have to keep the little ones I know away from the television and computer screens, but these older kids give me hope that the work is worth it.

I love that they are taking back the streets, and in a way, their own bodies.

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