October is Be Active Every Day month, an annual Doctors of BC event that is just one of our public health initiatives. Be Active Every Day aims to teach children about nutrition and physical health literacy through activity challenges, which is especially important as childhood obesity rates are high, unstructured play is waning, and screens are ubiquitous for kids of all ages.
I recently had the pleasure of leading children at University Hill Elementary school through an exercise program and talking about our new math, 5-2-1-0:
As anyone around children knows, play is natural. It may be challenging to ask hundreds of kids in a room to sit quietly through a presentation, but their enthusiasm erupts when asked to play tag or run or do jumping jacks. Walks in the forest spontaneously turn into racing games or hide and seek. Backyards become baseball parks and couches become trampolines.
Unfortunately our lives have evolved in ways that can often exclude healthy activities due to many factors: urban sprawl, difficult commutes, parents having to work longer hours and sometimes multiple jobs, the expectation to always be available, and lack of appropriate outdoor space for play. Some communities do not have access to clean drinking water, let alone availability of fresh and colourful foods.
So despite the demands of daily life, the push and pull of social media, and the easy access to low-nutrition processed foods, as physicians and as parents let’s encourage today’s kids to “Be Active Every Day” – and let’s also embrace the natural tendency to play by supporting the children around us, including our own inner child.