Fitness literature free for youths of all ages

Canadian citizens living in Quebec pay their share of municipal, provincial and federal taxes. The good news is that the three levels of government offer free or modestly priced activities and publications to improve the quality of life for all age groups.

A plethora of physical fitness booklets for youngsters, teens and young adults can be found on the Internet.

For parents, the federal government offers free, colourful publications that include health news, educational trends and cultural pursuits.

Gotta Move!, a beautifully illustrated physical activity guide, is a typical example. Available online or as a booklet, it is geared to children six to nine years of age. In it, parents will discover physical activity ideas to pursue at home, school and with the child’s friends and family. The goal is to make physical activity a part of the day.

Several organizations contributed their ideas to Gotta Move!, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Without sermonizing, the authors convey the importance of keeping active and alert instead of plopping down on the couch and watching television. Everything from building a snow sculpture to bagging groceries is preferable to slumping in a chair munching chips.

The authors of the booklet encourage children to set goals for themselves, and the authors give them a “pat on the back” for achievements.

The latter section of the magazine is instructive. Children are shown how physical activity builds up the body. The text is easy to understand, yet the authors don’t talk down to the children.

Here is a sample: “Your body is made up of many moving parts. In some ways, it’s just like a machine, an amazing machine. Your heart, lungs, bones and muscles work as a team helping you to have fun daily. To keep your body tuned up, you have got to move. Would you like to know how?”

Then the children are instructed through whimsical illustrations. They learn about the heart, lungs, muscles and bones, and quizzes follow.

Adolescents, aged 10 to 14, can access the online publication Physical Activity Is Fun, a guide for youth 10 to 14 years old.

The publication has many activity suggestions for young people to try at home, school, inside or outside, on the way to and from school, and with family and friends. The goal is to add more physical activity to daily life to feel well and strong.

Physical Activity Is Fun begins as follows: “Dare to be active! Adolescents are encouraged to tune into physical activity to meet new friends, improve physical self-esteem, achieve a healthy weight, build strong bones, strengthen muscles, maintain flexibility, promote good posture and balance, improve fitness, strengthen the heart, increase relaxation, and promote healthy growth and development.”

The authors motivate those who are inactive to adapt a healthy lifestyle. The authors of Physical Activity Is Fun provide plans and timetables for teens to follow, followed by ideas to put into practice. Parents and teachers are advised to use the guide with additional support resources.

Teens learn that getting started is the hardest part. If they are already active, they are told they should build their physical activity levels by 30 minutes a day and to work up to 90 minutes daily over a five-month period.

The booklet includes a quiz on the benefits of physical education. Through colourful graphics and concise explanations, youth learn facts. For example, it is stated that muscles have very specific enzymes which burn only fat. Exercise or physical activity helps you burn more fat, more efficiently. The more you use your muscles through physical activity, the more fat burning enzymes your muscles develop to burn more fat. A list of invigorating activities to pursue is included.

Here is a sample of physical activity tips from Physical Activity Is Fun.

• Flexibility: when touching toes from a sitting position, keep your back straight and bend at hip.

• Endurance: when doing vigorous or even moderate activities, make sure to drink lots of water.

• Strengthening: if you are lifting weights, make sure that someone guides you.

In addition, Physical Activity Is Fun includes quizzes and crossword puzzles.

Copies of Gotta Move! and Physical Activity Is Fun can be obtained by calling 1-888-334-4764 or by visiting