10/11/2013 10:28 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Physical Activity Is an Important Part of the Back-to-School Equation

Now that school has started up again, it's that time of year when parents and children have more to do and less time to do it. From packing lunches to figuring out school schedules and doing homework, it is easy to let things like physical activity fall to the wayside.

While children are encouraged to keep active at school through recess, lunch hour, and physical education classes, we know that Canadian children and youth are not moving enough. In fact, fifty-two per cent of Canadian parents say their children, ages five to 17 years, participate in sport and/or physical activity programs at school; however only five per cent of them are meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Fortunately, there are fun, simple activities that families can do together to get their children's bodies moving and hearts pumping. For instance, rather than watching or playing games on screens, spend time outdoors and play active games together. Make family time active time and plan hikes, bike rides or visits to parks. Walk, ride or wheel to your destination instead of driving. With a little creativity, physical activity is easy to integrate into even the busiest of schedules.

By making physical activity a part of the family's routine, children are in a better position to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits of being active. According to the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, play and physical activity have been shown to improve and foster motor function, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and the ability to control emotions. They have even been shown to help children improve their grades! So, with children back in school keeping their minds active, let's not forget to keep their bodies active, as well.

For more tips on how to stay physically active with your family this back to school season, visit and find out how to maintain that enthusiasm for active play throughout the year.