Books, binders, backpacks and jumping jacks? Canadian parents surveyed see importance in physical activity as kids head back to school

New ACTIVE AT SCHOOL study reveals 88 per cent of Canadian parents surveyed say it is very important for their kids to get physical activity before, during and after school

ACTIVE AT SCHOOL and partner, PHE Canada, share six quick and easy tips to help parents and teachers get kids active for at least one hour per day during the school year

TORONTO, Sept. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Summer holidays are at an end and will be replaced for many Canadian families with carpools, busy schedules and homework – factors that can make incorporating daily physical activity tough. As Canadian child and youth physical activity levels remain alarmingly low, according to the 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, Canadian parents are motivated now more than ever to help reverse this trend as their children head back-to-school.

Highlights from a new survey commissioned by ACTIVE AT SCHOOL reveal that:

  • Ninety per cent of parents surveyed believe that an hour of activity will have a positive impact on their child.
  • Eighty-eight per cent of Canadian parents surveyed feel it is very important for their children to participate in physical activity before, during or after school. 
  • Eighty-eight per cent also believe that school is a natural place for physical activity.
  • Almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of Canadians surveyed claim that their child will not be as healthy overall if they don't receive at least an hour of activity per day during the school year.
  • And, in terms of barriers, 17 per cent noted 'time,' 19 per cent pointed to 'cost' and 41 per cent said competition from non-active hobbies was the challenge to getting their kids active. Seventy-nine per cent of parents surveyed believe physical activity is very important for their child.

ACTIVE AT SCHOOL partners and athletes reinforce importance of sport for kids:
"While the majority of parents feel it is important for their children to be physically active every day, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada reports that only 22 per cent of elementary school children receive daily physical education at school"
-       Chris Jones, Executive Director and CEO of Physical & Health Education Canada.

"Integrating quality physical education and physical activity into children's daily routine can have a significant impact from improving their overall health and wellness to productivity and learning as well as boosting their self-confidence and ability to concentrate. Getting kids active has a positive ripple effect on almost every aspect of their lives."
-       Chris Jones, Executive Director and CEO of Physical & Health Education Canada

"Sport and physical activity have always been an important part of my life, even from a young age. Growing up, my family had an activity chart at our cottage and my brothers and sister and I would have to try a new activity every day. Regardless of whether we were at school or at home, we were always taking part in some kind of activity. Doing this not only improved my health and well-being, it helped me build confidence and develop leadership skills that I still carry with me today."
-       Rosie MacLennan, Olympic gold medallist

"It is so great to see Quebecers making physical activity for youth a priority. Sport has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember and the benefits go far beyond just health and wellness. Even before swimming, physical education was my favourite class in school and it taught me so many skills that benefit me even today – self-confidence, better concentration, persistence and appreciating the value of team work."
-       Benoît Huot, Paralympic gold medalist

ACTIVE AT SCHOOL and Physical and Health Education Canada have created six tips to help get parents and educators started:

  1. Start Young: Ensure your child has toys and games that promote physical activity from a young age and give positive reinforcement whenever your child is physically active. Helping them develop the fundamental movement skills at a young age, such as running, hopping, throwing, catching and jumping can give kids the confidence to participate in different physical activities, sports, and games when they get older.
  2. Be An Active Role Model: Lead by example and share the experience with your child. For example, visit a new park, go outdoors, play or simply walk together. You can make a fun game during park visits by organizing scavenger hunts that you can participate in with your child.
  3. Break It Up: Too busy to incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity all at once? An hour can be broken up into 15-minute intervals. Whether it's walking to and from school or going for a short bike ride after dinner, short intervals can help your child achieve their full hour of physical activity.
  4. Nurture Interest: Not sure how to get your child excited about physical activity? Talk to your child about their interests and incorporate those interests into physical activities. A video game can be turned into a fun outdoor activity concept. Another great way to keep children interested is to involve their friends – everyone benefits when they're getting active and having fun in a social way.
  5. Encourage Safe Physical Activity: Having safe, accessible and fun options for physical activity is essential to getting kids active. Before school and afterschool programs are a great way to ensure your children get quality physical activity in a safe environment with other children. Participating in physical activities with your children and leading by example (see tip 2) will provide your child with a positive role model, while also ensuring their safety during physical activities outside of the home (a visit to the park, bike ride, etc.).
  6. Seek Out Quality Programs: If your child is in an after school program find out what they do for physical activity. Organizations such as the Canadian Active Afterschool Partnership have great resources on how before school and afterschool programs can incorporate physical activity.

Getting kids active doesn't have to be another chore on parents' to do lists this fall. Visit to learn more.

ACTIVE AT SCHOOL is a broad-based group of more than 80 influential private, public and not-for-profit organizations committed to ensuring that one hour a day of quality physical activity and education is brought back to schools across Canada. With a goal of helping to reverse the trend of inactivity in Canadian kids and youth, ACTIVE AT SCHOOL is focused on using its varied voices to keep the issue top of mind with federal, provincial and municipal government as well as school boards across Canada.

About PHE Canada
Physical Health and Education Canada (PHE Canada) is the national voice for physical and health education. They work with educators and on-the-ground professionals to develop the resources, understanding, and networks to ensure that all children have the opportunity to cultivate the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to lead healthy, physically active lives, now and in the future. The foundation of their work is advocating for strong health and physical education curriculum, and providing the support to ensure its delivery by qualified educators supported by engaged administrators.

About the Survey
From August 11 to August 13, 2014, an online survey was conducted among 1,012 randomly selected Canadian adults aged 18+ with a child age 4-17, who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


For further information: To receive national survey results or to speak with an ACTIVE AT SCHOOL or PHE spokesperson, contact: Jennifer Britton, North Strategic, 289-380-2327,

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