Nunavut kids most active in Canada, says group

A group of children laugh at Maani Ulujuk school in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, during a governor general's visit in 2009. A report by Active Healthy Kids Canada on 2012 activity levels across the country found children in Nunavut came out on top. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press )Report used pedometers to measure the number of steps taken

A Toronto organization says kids in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut are the most active in the country.

Each year, Active Healthy Kids Canada reports on activity levels across the country. Pedometers are given to select children in each province or territory to measure the number of steps taken.

In 2012, kids in Nunavut came out on top.

“We really have to sort of dig a little deeper to see, you know, what is it that’s making the difference,” said Jennifer Cowie Bonne, who leads Active Healthy Kids Canada.

“But I think what the data is saying is that you’re on the right track. Don’t stop now, keep going, and make sure that it’s the activity you’re getting every day that’s huffing and puffing 60 minutes.”

Cowie Bonne said kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

Rachel Clow, who worked in early childhood education in Iqaluit for 15 years, agrees kids need to keep moving.

“It’s the way they learn,” she said. “And it’s a way to keep healthy and keep fit, but definitely the biggest one is it’s the way they learn.”

But when it’s too cold to play outside, it’s a challenge keeping kids busy.

Leslie Leafloor, manager of early childhood development for the Nunavut government, also raised three children up North and says it doesn’t take much to keep kids active.

“You can ask them to go and count how many pillows we have in our household, and they’ll go running through the house and counting the pillows,” she said.

Leafloor also suggests throwing a sheet across a table to make a fort or asking kids to count the number of socks in the house.

She says if you can’t be outside for long, make it count. Putting coloured water in old squeeze bottles and letting kids paint on snow is one idea.

“Just a couple of drops of food colouring into a bottle of water — using an old dish soap bottle or a shampoo bottle that the child can squirt — and then they can go outside and they can paint pictures on the snow with the coloured water.”

When it’s really cold outside, Leafloor suggests bringing snow inside to play with in the sink or bathtub.

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