Our kids need real activities

ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It has crossed my mind since my kids started school -- will they be social outsiders because they don't have a Wii, and barely know how to use one?

So far no, and we're happily ignoring the active video game craze in favour of old-fashioned physical activity. I know lots of people claim to get good workouts from exercising while glued to their TVs. I believe them. But screen time sports don't require the same levels of energy expenditure as physical activity, nor do they offer the same opportunities for outdoor play or social interaction.

That's according to the 2009 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, released this week, which gave Canadians a mark of "F" for screen time. The report found 90% of Canadian children and youth are spending more than two hours a day in front of television, computer and video screens. Many get close to six hours a day.

The report also advised that if you're looking to have your kids excel in school, you might want to cut down on extra homework and spend some time at a park or playground with them. Great advice!

Ontario kids who participated in a comprehensive school health initiative that included physical activity as a key element showed a 36% increase in reading and a 24% increase in math scores over a two-year period.

"Schools and parents who replace children's physical activity time with academic study to improve their academic performance should think again," said Dr. Mark Tremblay, chief scientific officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada.

Sadly, for the third consecutive year, the report card assigned Canadians an "F" for physical activity levels. Only 13% of Canadian children and youth are meeting the minimum recommendation of 90 minutes of physical activity a day. At first glance, an hour and a half sounds like a lot. But it's doable if you add up school recesses, plus 10 minutes of tag here, a bit of soccer or road hockey there, and -- at least with little kids -- silly dancing or wrestling after dinner ... instead of screen time.

The full report can be viewed online at www.activehealthykids.ca.

Olympic tix sale resumes

More than 200,000 tickets to all events at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics will go on sale tomorrow and demand is expected to be high.

So what's the best way to navigate the online ordering system? Will it resemble the special kind of hell experienced when trying to register at 7 a.m. for a seasonal Toronto Parks & Rec program? (Great programs, by the way.) Not quite. Because Olympic ticket sales are all random, refreshing your web page over and over won't help.

Here's how it works: Tomorrow at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT), prospective customers visiting the www.vancouver2010.com website will be directed to a virtual waiting room, where they will be selected randomly to enter the website. Once signed into their account, customers will be able to purchase up to four separate events, with a limit of either four or eight tickets per event. If a customer wants to order more than the limit of four events, they will need to start a new transaction.

"We want to make sure everyone's ready on Saturday morning, so take a minute to register a ticketing account if you don't already have one and have a look at the schedules ahead of time," said Caley Denton, vice-president, ticketing and consumer marketing for VANOC.


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