Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  How to Help Your Child Be More Physically Active

Main Content

How to Help Your Child Be More Physically Active


It's great that you're helping your child to be more active. That's one of the best things you can do for your child's health. As you know, physical activity is good in many ways. For example, it can give your child more energy and confidence.

You probably have ideas about what kinds of activity work well for your child and your family. More activity may mean riding a bike with friends, playing actively at school, or walking with the family. It could also mean playing school sports or playing basketball outside. Check local schools, the YMCA, and other community resources for safe places to be active.

Being active for at least 60 minutes a day is a good goal for your children aged 5 to 17 years. For younger children, try to be active several times each day. Your doctor can help you make a plan to reach this goal. You can also help your child if you are more active too. This can teach your child that exercise is for everyone.

As you make a plan, think about things that may cause problems. Some examples are bad weather, being tired, and busy schedules. Try to plan what you can do when these things happen.

How can you help your child be active?

In the home and at the park

  • Make exercise a part of your family's daily life.
    • Walk with your child to do errands. Or walk to the bus stop or school with your child. If you can't walk with your child, ask if a neighbour or other children can do it.
    • Ride bikes or go for walks together.
    • Give family members active tasks to do. These may include sweeping the floors, weeding the garden, or washing the car.
    • Jump rope, dance, skate, or toss a ball with your child.
    • Take your family to the park or pool.
  • Limit TV, video games, or computer time.
    • Recreational screen time is not recommended for children under the age of 2. If your child is between 2 to 4 years old, less than 1 hour is recommended each day. For children and teens 5 to 17, no more than 2 hours is recommended each day.
  • Do not let your child have a TV in their room.
  • Praise your child for doing exercise that they enjoy. If your child doesn't like team sports, there are many other options. For example, your child could bike, skate, run, dance, or do martial arts.

School or clubs

  • Check local schools, the YMCA, and other community resources for exercise or sports programs.
  • Take your child with you to your health club if it has a family exercise time or a swimming pool.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter A184 in the search box to learn more about "How to Help Your Child Be More Physically Active".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.