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Increasing physical activity

The California Partners Project is engaged in a listening tour with California caregivers to understand how parents are navigating the integration of technology and devices into most aspects of their children’s lives. Many of the caregivers report it is difficult to get their kids moving. A mom of a teenage daughter shared, “The bottom line is that she is spending too much time on the computer.” Other families found connecting with nature to be a helpful strategy to encourage movement. A mom of three in Oakland shared, “The public parks have been lifesaving for our mental health.”

School-age children should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In CPP’s Are the Kids Alright? report, 65% of the California teens interviewed in fall 2020 for the qualitative study had little to no exercise over the course of a week. A study published in Pediatrics showed an increase of obesity by nearly two percent in children ages 2 – 17 from January 2019 – December 2020, with greater increases for Black and Latino children.

Physical activity promotes healthy bodies, restorative sleep, and opportunities to connect with others. Dr. Dana Tuttle, co-founder of, suggests that setting limits on screen time can create space for physical activity. She also recommends parents have options ready to encourage movement like a jump rope or a ball and be ready to join in when you have time to do so. For many working parents, making time to exercise, either individually or as a family, is challenging. Parents we spoke to in communities throughout California shared the practical strategies they use to encourage their kids to move.

Tips to increase physical activity

Take short walks together as a family.

Multiple caregivers shared their discovery that taking brief walks around the neighborhood helped encourage their kids to move, get outdoors, and reset their mood.

Volunteer to coach a recreational sports team.

Whether coaching a softball team, helping organize a bike trip, or joining in a yoga class for kids, having children see their parents or loving adults involved in a sport gives them a positive, active role model to emulate.

Create a family exercise challenge.

Create a sit-up, push-up, or dance competition your family can do right in your own home. These simple exercises are practical ways to get stronger and more fit without equipment or classes. (See Parents Together Family Challenge)

Visit a regional, state or national park.

Encourage outdoor exploration with visits to regional, state, or national parks. Try a new activity like hiking or fishing. Plan a camping trip with other families to promote social connection while you are outdoors. (See How-to Vamos Outdoors, Latino Outdoors)

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