Six Ways to Stay Active and Healthy Throughout the School Year

With summer winding down, the endless afternoons of running and playing outside are coming to an end – but cooler weather doesn’t have to mean staying inside!

This school year, The Learning Partnership suggests six simple ways to keep your children healthy and active.

  1. Make it affordable:
    Remember that physical activity does not have to mean organized sport. There are many affordable and accessible ways to get your kids active: go for a walk around the block, spend more time in city parks, or dance to your favourite song as a family.

  2. Walk or bike to school:
    Even if it’s only once or twice a week, walking or biking to school is the simplest way to infuse your day with activity. If you’re worried about safety, some communities have even formed “Walking Buses” where parents volunteer to pick up and supervise children on their walk to school. Think about organizing one in your neighbourhood.

  3. Let them play:
    Children need time to be themselves. Don’t be afraid to give your child a little independence – this will create opportunities for unstructured free play and will significantly contribute to their daily physical activity.

  4. Keep things fun:
    We often associate physical activity with competitive games or sports, but this can sometimes deter participation. Instead, focus on keeping activity fun for everyone involved. Swimming, jumping rope or games like tag and hide and seek are simple ways to stay active while having fun.

  5. Encourage study breaks:
    Physical activity has been proven to increase mental acuity, attention span and overall academic achievement. Encourage a quick 10 minute activity break for every 30 minutes of homework to spark your child’s energy levels

  6. Embrace winter:
    Canada’s cold climate is no reason to stop being active. Lead by example, dress appropriately and embrace the outdoors. In both cities and countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to go skating, snowshoeing and skiing. Even a friendly snowball fight can be a great way to get some exercise during winter.
These tips are provided by education experts at The Learning Partnership – a national, charitable organization dedicated to advancing publicly funded education, in part, through its work to inspire and build collaborations between business, education, government and the community to ensure public education is relevant and value rich for our students.
Did you know?
  • ​Just 7% of Canadian children get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by Health Canada.i
  • Only 24% of children use some form of active transportation (walking, biking) to get to and from school.ii
  • Educators report that competing curriculum priorities leave little time or resources for physical activity.iii
  • There is a significant gender gap when it comes to physical activity – while activity levels of boys and girls are roughly equal at early ages, girls tend to slow down during adolescence.iv

i Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. (2013). 2013 Annual Report. Canada: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 104-121
ii Active Healthy Kids Canada (2014). Is Canada in the Running? The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: Active Healthy Kids Canada
iii The Learning Partnership (2014). Active at School: Connecting the Dots. Toronto: The Learning Partnership.
iv ParticipACTION. (2011). Lifestyle Tips: Girls and Physical Activity. Retrieved from:

For additional information, contact:

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Expert available for interviews:
Gerry Connelly
Director, Policy and Knowledge Mobilization

The former Director of Education of the Toronto District School Board and Director of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch in the Ontario Ministry of Education, Gerry Connelly is an expert on education trends and practices. Her career includes teaching and administration in both rural and urban environments in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, the United States and Ontario.