01/22/2014 07:52 EST | Updated 03/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Don't Abandon Your Fitness Resolutions Just Yet

Are you determined to stick to your physical activity goals in 2014?

Every January, many of us overcommit to changes that we think we want or need. But come February, many of us have already broken our resolutions and returned to bad habits. According to 2012 research, about 68 per cent of Canadians created New Year's goals, yet more than half of us broke those goals just one month later.

The resolution trick is to make them easy to implement and maintain so you can stick with them for the long term.

One small change that can lead to higher physical activity levels is using your own steam to get places -- also called active transportation. These days, the car is king, even when it comes to our kids. Almost two thirds of school-age kids (61 per cent) get some sort of ride to and from school, up from 51 per cent just a decade ago. This might seem like an issue of convenience rather than wellbeing, but kids who walk, bike, blade, skate or scooter to school get up to 45 more minutes of daily physical activity than those who arrive by train, bus or car. These minutes add up quickly to a healthier lifestyle; according to ParticipACTION, kids need 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Active transportation offers a huge opportunity to get every member of the family moving more -- you already have places to be, so you just have to shift your plans on how to get there. Rather than driving distances less than a kilometre from your home, pick up your sneakers, blades or bicycle to get to your destination and you can make an instant and significant impact on your family's overall health.

It's time to stop and question your family's reliance on the car. Yes, many of us live in suburbs or rural areas where destinations tend to be spread out, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to choose people power as an option. It may be easier to incorporate more steps into your day than you realize, if you just take a look at where you have to be in a week.

At school, or after school, encourage your children to walk, cycle, ski or snowshoe home, to friends' houses, to the community centre or even to or from the bus stop.

If you can't walk your children to school every day, take turns with other parents in your neighbourhood leading a "walking school bus," or commit to a Walking Wednesday in your family as a place to start.

Instead of driving to birthday parties, the corner store, basketball practice or dance class, you can factor in some extra time to walk.

And, if it really is too far to walk, consider parking the car a few blocks from your destination, walking to the commuter train station or running some errands on foot when you are parked somewhere, rather than hopping back into the car between every stop.

Active transportation can take you and your family one step closer to reaching your fitness goals.


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