By Dr. Kathleen Regan, ND

Back-to-school can create a lot of stress and anxiety for kids. Most parents are looking for natural ways to reduce their child’s stress. Exercise has long been linked to improved mood, reduced anxiety and increased self-confidence. Children need at least an hour of physical activity to achieve these benefits.

  • Feel less stressed
  • Feel better about themselves
  • Feel more ready to learn in school
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Sleep better at night

The challenge is fitting exercise into the family schedule OR convincing your child to go! Here are some Toronto-specific suggestions to help you use fitness as a natural family remedy. 

  1. Stay fit your self! Children are more likely to exercise when they see their parents exercising.
  1. Limit TV time and choose a family walk instead. Walking is nice because it is something the whole family can do together all year long. As well, it is a great exercise post-dinner to promote digestion and healthy sleep. Starting family walks young can promote healthy habits that last a lifetime.
  1. Choose a family fitness club. This is my personal favorite because I grew up going to the YMCA with my family. There is an activity for everyone! Nowadays there are some even cooler options like obstacle courses and rock climbing gyms. Check out these Top 5 Toronto options that offer amazing kids programs!
  1. Find the right fit. Not every child is going to be a swimmer or a hockey player. There are lots of interesting activities to say active that don’t have to be too ‘sporty’. What about these option?
  • Maybe you have a little outdoor enthusiast on your hands? Check out the High Park Nature Club for Kids or Evergreen Brick Work’s Nature Nut Program.
  • It could be that singing & dancing is more of their thing. Your child can discover their inner rock star at Elite Music.
  • Perhaps you have a child that prefer to scale walls? Lots of options here for rock climbing! I think that True North really stands out for it’s kids program.
  • Or maybe they prefer something really interesting like freestyle jumping or trampoline dodgeball…. You can’t beat Sky Zone for this one.
  1. Too really help soothe anxiety – use exercise in combination with other stress reducing activities like meditation and yoga, computer training, brain training games, colouring books or music.

TIP: Looking to browse for more options? Try Help We’ve Got Kids for local Toronto programs.