January 13, 2017

It was a very cold Friday, January 6, 2017 in Toronto but I made it out for my first ParticipACTION event and tried curling for the first time. I had the pleasure of interviewing Katherine Janson, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs with www. Participaction.com and she shared some valuable insights on staying active and helping kids to do the same. “Participaction promotes the idea that a more active life is a better life. With national programs and the latest info all in one place, they help people of all ages make sitting less and moving more a priority. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, they’ve got the ultimate Play List to get you moving – 150 activities that define our land and people – from sledge hockey to lacrosse to snow shoveling and more. So get out there, try as many as you can, track your activities online and earn chances to win great prizes!”

Did you know that 2/3 or parents think their kids are active when only 9% of kids between the ages of 5-17 are active enough to meet the guidelines?

The website provides physical activity guidelines for all ages. As an example for optimal health benefits, it states that children and youth (aged 5-17 years) should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day.

A healthy 24 hours includes:

Sweat – Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity

An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least 3 days per week;

Step – Light Physical Activity

Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activities;


Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;

Sit – Sedentary Behaviour

No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; limited sitting for extended periods.

Preserving sufficient sleep, trading indoor time for outdoor time, and replacing sedentary behaviours and light physical activity with additional moderate to vigorous physical activity can provide greater health benefits.

Practical ideas:

  • Walk or cycle to/from school
  • Limit screen time
  • Encourage outdoor play/free play
  • Allow kids to let loose and they will naturally move more
  • Plan vacations that allow for walks, hikes, exploration, and water activities.

“Even if you are on a low budget, think activity (not necessarily activities)” suggests Katherine. It can be something as simple as snow shoveling or building a snow man. It could also just be kicking a ball, building a fort or dancing in the living room. It’s important for parents to set a good example, get involved with their kids and just have fun together. As a family we’ll have pillow fights, play hide and seek or tag with the kids or let them come up with other ideas of activities that we can do together indoors or outdoors.

As a fitness coach, recruiter and mom of three life can get busy, but if I schedule time to work out and set a positive example for my kids, I find they’ll often join in on the fun, even if it’s yoga in our basement (see photo). Check out the 150 Playlist activities of the participaction website or message me if you are interested in the coaching I do or active play dates that I host.

Monica Gibbs




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