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Move Yourself to Better Health

Physical Activity

Move Yourself to Better Health

Outdoor Play For Schools For Workplaces Sedentary Time  Walking 

Benefits of Being Active

Did you know that being physically active...

Family playing in park
  • helps you feel good about yourself
  • helps you pay attention
  • helps you feel motivated
  • helps your memory
  • helps you keep a healthy weight
  • gives you more energy to tackle your day
  • helps you sleep better
  • can relieve stress
  • keeps your bones and muscles strong
  • helps you fight off colds and other illnesses
  • improves learning
  • helps older adults to have better balance and prevent falls
  • sets a good example for your family and friends

It also helps to lower your risk of...

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis
  • depression
  • breast cancer
  • colon cancer

How to Get Started

Start by doing what you can and then look for ways to do more. Try activities that fit easily into your everyday life. For example:

  • Walk for 10 minutes at a time or longer on work breaks, after work, before or after dinner.
  • Take the stairs whenever you can – don’t use elevators or escalators.
  • Get up from your desk and stretch every half hour.
  • Walk or cycle for short trips to the store, to get mail, to work/school or to visit friends.
  • Walk over to talk to your co-worker, friend, or neighbour instead of sending an email.
  • Take public transit.  Walking to and from the bus stop is great activity.
  • If you take a bus, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Try cycling, swimming, or water aerobics for activities that are less weight bearing and might be easier on your joints.
  • Remember, even 10 minutes of activity is better than none!

Kids can Move to Better Health too!

People who spend more time moving are often healthier. Limit recreational screen time to 2 hours or less per day.

What is "screen time"?

Screen time is the amount of time spent in front of a screen and includes watching television, using a computer, or playing video games.

We can all spend less time sitting and more time moving.

Some tips for Parents:

  • Walk around the playing field, arena or up and down the stairs of the bleachers when your child is playing sports.
  • Encourage your child to walk or cycle to and from school.
  • Allow your child to choose activities.
  • Plan a family activity instead of TV time.
  • Keep TVs out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • Try to spend more time outdoors. Time spent being active outdoors after school lowers anxiety, anger, tiredness and sadness.
  • Make the park an after school stop every day.
  • Encourage your child to try out for sports teams at school.
  • When your child plays, encourage active games like skipping, hopscotch, or tag.
  • On special occasions, give gifts that encourage activity like a soccer ball or skipping rope.
  • Sign your child up for low cost or free recreation programs.
  • Help your children develop physical literacy and Move and Play Everyday!. Practice basic movement skills like crawling, hopping, running, throwing, catching or kicking a ball, balancing, swimming, climbing, skating, dodging, cycling, and jumping with your children to help them develop confidence in moving through life!
Infographic courtesy of Active for Life

How Much is Enough to Achieve Health Benefits?

Following Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines

Minimum Recommended Amount of Physical Activity



Infants, toddlers and preschoolers 0-4

How much and how often?

  • Infants (aged less than one year) need to be physically active several times daily – particularly through interactive floor based play.

  • Toddlers (aged 1-2 years) and Preschoolers (aged 3-4 years) need to be physically active for at least 180 minutes at any intensity spread throughout the day.

Children 5-11 and Youth 12-17

How much and how often?

  • At least 60 minutes and up to several hours daily of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.

Adults and Older Adults 18-65+

How much and how often?

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, at least 10 minutes at a time.

A note about intensity

Moderate intensity activities will cause you to sweat a little and breathe harder. Examples include: Brisk walking, playground activities, biking, and skating.

Vigorous intensity activities will cause you to sweat and be 'out of breath'. Examples include: Running, swimming, rollerblading and cross-country skiing.

(Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP), 2011)

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines

Here's How

Write it down - it works and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1. Write down your goal.

family playing baseball

Start by doing what you can.  Set a goal that suits your life. Choose activities you enjoy.

A goal might be to:

  • Be active together as a family 3 times a week
  • Go for a family walk every evening after dinner
  • Go for a family bike ride twice a week
  • Do special activities together on weekends (e.g. swimming, bowling, hiking on a trail)

2. Make a plan!

Decide when, where and what you will do. Write it on a calendar where everyone can see it.

Here is a sample plan:






When: after dinner
Where: neighbourhood
What: go for a bike ride with the kids (30 min)

When: after dinner
Where: neighbourhood
What: go for a walk (30min)

When: after dinner
Where: local park
What: play badminton with the kids (30 min)

When: morning
Where: neighbourhood
What: early morning walk before work (30min)

When: after dinner
Where: local park
What: play baseball with the kids (30min)

3. Keep track of your family’s activities

Tracking helps you keep at it!

  • When you reach your goal, celebrate your success!  Then come up with a new goal, for example, walk further, more often or pick up the pace. 
  • Remember, children need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and adults need 150 minutes each week. 

INTERACTIVE Physical Activity Planners

Use the physical activity planners to help you stay on track. Print it off or save it to your computer.

How to Keep Going

How do I stay motivated?

  • Physical activity is easy and fun!  Start with a decision to get up and move.
  • Set a family goal and be active together. You can motivate each other. Activity is a great way to enjoy family time together. 
  • Look for new activities and try some that you think will be fun.  Ask members of your family what activities they would like to try.
  • Keep track of your family’s activity to see your progress.
  • Celebrate your successes and set new goals.  Set your new goal a little higher.
  • It can take from 2 weeks to 2 months to form a new routine.  Stick with it!

How do I keep up my energy?

Move Yourself to Better Health!
  • We all have days when we don’t feel like being active.  Believe it or not, being active gives you more energy! 
  • Try being active for short periods of time (e.g. 10 minute activities).  You can then add more time to your activity.
  • Have a healthy snack before your activity.
  • Drink water before, during and after being active. 

How do I find time for physical activity?

Trails Map
Durham Trails
Map (PDF)
  • It's a challenge for working families to find time for physical activity, but the benefits are worth it!
  • Just 10 minutes at a time counts! 
  • Look for ways to add activity into your day:
    • Walk or bike to work or school
    • Walk to the next bus stop, or get off a stop early
    • Park in the far corner of the parking lot
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • When watching your children play sports, such as hockey or soccer, look for ways you can move too.  Try walking around the hockey rink or soccer field.

Worried about the cost?

  • There are many no cost and low cost activities.  One of the most common activities is walking. All you need are a pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothing. 
  • Try starting a walking group in your neighbourhood.  It is a nice way to be social and active at the same time.
  • Ask other families in your neighbourhood to do an activity with your family.  You can try a pick-up game of soccer or try walking on a nearby trail. 
  • Check with your local recreation centre for free or low cost activities.

In Your Community

Recreation Subsidy in Durham Region

With the participation of municipal and not for profit organizations, recreation subsidization is available in Durham Region to increase the number of residents who can experience the benefits of recreation. Visit here for information and contacts in your community!