How To Model a Healthy Lifestyle For Your Kids

How To Model a Healthy Lifestyle For Your Kids
By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

We have an opportunity to change lives, and the lives of generations to come. 


As we celebrate Father’s Day this week, it is important for us to remember that the fitness industry can change the way parents model physical activity for their kids. 


According to Participaction’s 2022 report, only 28% of Canadians kids aged 5-17 meet the national physical activity levels guidelines. Parents play a critical role in shaping our children’s lives – from screen time, to healthy eating and exercise, our kids are watching us. “We see parents driving their kids to hockey or soccer practice and then sitting throughout the practice, scrolling their phone and drinking coffee, and saying things like, ‘I don’t have time to workout’,” says Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of Fitness Industry Council of Canada. “If we are going to get  kids more active, Mom and Dad have to get active too, and make exercise a priority for the family.


One of the most effective ways to have our kids adopt healthy behaviors that will impact their physical and mental health for their lifetime will be to embrace exercise as a part of your family’s life. Children will replicate good and bad behavior; building good habits, such as vegetables with each meal and a walk after dinner, that will have lasting effects.    


Here are five ways to add physical activity to your family routine!


  1. Monkey see, Monkey Do

Lead by example: Join a gym, make time for exercise, walk more and move more. Think about starting small, and by this we mean start when they are small! Get down on the floor and play with children, whether they are your kids, your friends’ kids or your grandkids. Do push-ups or plank, do squats when you are washing dishes, host family challenges in your neighborhood. And remember – a healthy body is not simply the exercise we do, but our sleep, our nutrition, and our stress levels. Teach your kids how to eat a healthy diet, to get enough hours of sleep and to minimize their own stress through breathwork and meditation. 


  1. Get your 150 (and for kids….your 300!)

Did you know that kids aged 5-17 need a minimum of 60 minutes per day of physical activity? Research shows that as screen time increases, physical activity decreases. Allow your kids to have their screen time – whether it is television, scrolling their phones or playing video games – but make it a reward for getting their heart rate up! If they aren’t active with sports, make sure they are active in other ways. Write down physical activity “goals” and achieve them as a family!


  1. The Family That Sweats Together

Community centers and many fitness facilities across the country provide a space where the whole family can get active together. This summer, several Fitness Industry Council members are providing free gym memberships to teens, which gives our members the opportunity to sweat together! Remember, your kids will need to learn how to exercise, so show them proper form and technique and if you don’t know, consider hiring a trainer for a few sessions to show the family how to use equipment and how to perform exercises safely and effectively.


  1. Shift your language

How often have you heard someone say, “I have to go to the gym” or “I hate exercise”? Similar to modeling good behavior and action around physical activity, change the language around exercise. Your children are listening to everything you say – replace I have to workout with I GET TO WORKOUT! Praise your children often for their efforts, and give yourself a pat on the back too when you achieve your physical activity goals.


And on that note…


  1. Set Goals

You don’t have to be an athlete to embrace goal setting for improving your physical activity levels. As we head into summer, look around you for family-friendly races. Many marathons have pre-events for the whole family, like 1K races for little ones and 5k races for the whole family. Create challenges that see you getting out more often and trying new things! 


As we celebrate Father’s Day, this is a great opportunity to see fitness as a family affair! We have the chance to improve the health of Canadians, and to help parents help their kids live long and healthy lives. 

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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