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Make fitness a family resolution

Now that 2013 is here, many of us have made resolutions to live healthier, including exercising more often. Whether or not you succeed, many adults recognize the need for more physical activity in their lives - and this applies to children as well. Experts say being more active is a resolution kids should strive for.

According to the 2012 Active Healthy Kids report card compiled by participACTION Canada, most children are not getting adequate exercise. The report found that 46 percent of Canadian kids are getting three hours or less of physical activity each week. Additionally, active play after school and on weekends has declined in recent years, and 63 percent of kids' free time is spent being sedentary.

The report card assigned a failing grade to the physical activity of Canadian children, as only 7 percent meet the guideline of getting at least 60 minutes of daily moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. The recommendation for the amount of exercise American kids need is the same. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should get an hour of physical activity each day.

Purchasing new or used sports equipment and signing your children up to play a sport such as basketball, soccer, hockey or baseball is one way to help them become more active. However, experts say there are many other ways to encourage physical activity.

According to the Active Healthy Kids report card, only 38 percent of parents said they often played active games with their kids. Playing games like hide-and-seek, tag and others can easily help families get more exercise.

Spending family time being active is another way to keep your kids and yourself healthier. Taking a weekend bike ride, an after-dinner walk or lunchtime hike together are all great ideas.

Even in the winter, there are many ways parents and their kids can get exercise and have fun together. For instance, take a trip to a local skating rink to do some ice skating, or purchase used ski equipment for each family member and travel to a local ski resort to enjoy the scenery while being active.

"As a parent, resolve to act as a role model for your kids and get out and be active," Mark Eys, associate professor of kinesiology, physical education and psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, recently told The Record. "Enrolling your child is one thing, but living the example will be even more powerful. Resolve to set hard limits for your kids on sedentary pursuits such as television viewing and sitting in front of a computer."

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