Staying Fit and Having Fun While at Home

By: Michael Barrett, Registered Psychologist

The vast majority of Canadians are dealing with low to moderate stress linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical activity can be a valuable strategy to help you manage stress and stay healthy. Health Canada recommends that we should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, or about 22 minutes each day. In recognition of Canada’s National Health and Fitness Day ( on June 6th, 2020, here are some tips on how get your 150 minutes per week while in quarantine:

START WITH SMALL STEPS: While 22 minutes of physical activity a day may not sound like much, to a family member who’s become comfortable playing video games on the couch, they may view this request as difficult and overwhelming. To make it less intimidating, you may want to consider easing yourself or family members into a fitness regimen by breaking activity times down into smaller manageable steps. For example, you and your family members can work together to design an ‘activity box’ where everyone can create suggestions of activities that they would like to engage in and choose a different one each day. Maybe have each family member choose an activity time that works for them so they can start incorporating it into their daily routines.  Autism Ontario has an upcoming webinar on “How to Enhance Physical Activity Participation” on June 10thclick here for more information and to register.

GET HELP WITH TECHNOLOGY: Making use of the technology on your smartphone or smartwatch can also provide great options for your family. Apps are readily available to get your family active. Here are some ideas:

Geocaching: Challenge your family members to a scavenger hunt to locate and collect unique items or explore local areas of interest.

Pokémon GO: Your family can spend an afternoon competing to see who can catch the most Pokémon.

Online Classes: There is an abundance of virtual exercise classes offered.

An additional resource that families can benefit from is the Healthy at Home website ( offered through Special Olympics Canada. The website offers a wealth of information pertaining to activities and challenges you can do to stay active as well as tips for staying positive during this stressful time.

EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS: With spring finally arriving in Alberta, there are many more opportunities to engage in adventurous activities in the great outdoors!

Gardening: While many adolescents/young adults don’t really care for the manual labor, parents will love the help!

Rollerblading/biking in your neighborhood: It’s a great way to explore all the pathways throughout the city

Walks: Parents might consider taking the family for a sensory walk – looking and listening for different sights and sounds or a wildlife walk-identifying different animals on your journey or even a walk down to the local ice cream shop for a tasty reward.

Let’s go fly a kite: You can invite the kids to participate in a kite creation/flying challenge to give them a purpose to get moving.

LET GO OF BEING PERFECT: When incorporating physical activity into your life, it’s important to be mindful that being ‘perfect’ isn’t the goal. In fact, as you learn to become more physically active, please understand that it’s ok to miss a day. Missing a day is not the end of the world. It’s important that you’re motived to participate in physical activity and have fun while you’re doing it. Hopefully these strategies will be helpful for you and your family to stay healthy and connected to each other in these challenging times.

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