Want to get your children moving more? Take the first step

Active Family Pledge, Family Fitness, Family Time, ParticipACTION, exercise
Click to play video: 'Want to get your children moving more? Take the first step'
Want to get your children moving more? Take the first step
WATCH ABOVE: It's no surprise, the more active you are, the more active your kids will be. ParticipACTION is reminding parents about their influence on children by asking them to take the Active Family Pledge. Laurel Gregory reports – Jul 23, 2020

Rachel Nancy is finally tackling something she’s spent years thinking about — getting into shape.

“I said, ‘This is it. This is where you start and you don’t stop,'” the Mississauga mother-of-two said.

Since March, she’s been doing daily workouts in her living room. She says the new routine has been life-changing.

“Apart from the weight loss and then confidence, it just kind of clears my mind. It makes reaching goals much easier, ’cause I feel like I have tackled the most important part of my life.”

Mississauga mother Rachel Nancy and her 13-year-old son Khalil and 5-year-old Nia. Rachel Nancy/ Supplied

She has found a cheer squad in her 13-year-old son, Khalil, and five-year-old daughter, Nia.

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‘I will be working out, huffing and puffing and sweating, and then randomly my daughter will say, ‘You can do it mommy, go mommy, you can do this,'” Nancy said.

But something else often happens too — they join in. Especially Nia.

“She’s just there on the floor playing. And I think… it’s part of wanting to be part of something. She sees I am very excited about it. So she gets excited about it. She wants what I am feeling.”

Exercise is contagious, according to Leigh Vanderloo, an exercise scientist with ParticipACTION. She says the Nancy children are moving more because of mom.

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“Children are going to try to mimic or kind of model. It’s that whole, ‘monkey see, monkey do,’” Vanderloo said.

Click to play video: 'Setting the right example if you want your child to be more active'
Setting the right example if you want your child to be more active

The more active a parent is, the more likely their child will be active too, according to a 2017 study by Statistics Canada.

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It found that for every extra 20 minutes of physical activity for the parent, their child’s activity level rose by five to 10 minutes.

“That can make a difference whether or not a child is meeting national physical activity guidelines,” explained Vanderloo. “Given that Canadian children are already struggling to get there as it is, I think any additional positive support we can put into place to foster healthier behaviours is definitely a step in the right direction.”

ParticipACTION recently handed Canadian children and youths a D+ for overall physical activity in its annual report card.

Only 39 per cent of children (aged five to 11) and youths (12 to 17) met the national physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, according to ParticipACTION, a non-profit group that promotes healthy living.

Vanderloo suggests making family time active time. She encourages families to walk more and schedule in physical activity.

“You don’t all have to instantly become ironmen but it’s all about trying to include a little more fun movement throughout your day,” said Vanderloo.

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ParticipACTION is asking Canadians to take the Active Family Pledge, a social media challenge. Families are encouraged to post photos or videos of their family staying active using the hashtag #ActiveFamilyPledge. The goal is families will make activity part of their identity.

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“We enjoy cooking, we enjoy celebrating. We enjoy getting active together and spending time together,” Vanderloo said. “If it’s something you value as a family unit., it’s going to carry through for out the life span,” said Vanderloo.

It’s Rachel Nancy’s goal to be happier and healthier for her children and for herself. Both children say they are proud of their mom, and even her hard-to-impress teenager is impressed.

“I think it’s cool,” said Khalil.

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