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Park the Car and choose active transportation

(NC) This month, ParticipACTION is encouraging Canadians to revisit their New Year's resolutions by opting for small changes that can have a huge impact.

Every January, many of us overcommit to changes that we think we want or need. But come February, many of us have already broken our resolutions and returned to bad habits. According to 2012 research, about 68 per cent of Canadians created New Year's goals, yet more than half of us broke those goals just one month later.

The resolution trick is to make them easy to implement and maintain so you can stick with it for the long term.

It probably comes as no surprise that getting more active is among the top 10 most common resolutions. Oftentimes, we set goals that are just too lofty. So, this February, ParticipACTION wants Canadians to opt for small changes to increase physical activity levels that can create a huge impact. Better still, make physical activity changes for the whole family and motivate each other when dedication starts to wane.

One small change that can lead to higher physical activity levels is using your own steam to get to locations. Did you know that in the past decade, the proportion of five to 17 year-olds who use inactive modes of transportation to get to and from school has increased to 62 per cent, up from 51 per cent? Did you know too, that kids who use active transportation to get to and from school accumulate up to 45 more minutes of daily moderate- to-vigorous-intensity physical activity than kids who arrive by train, bus or car? ParticipACTION says that using active modes of transportation is an easy way to increase daily physical activity levels for everyone in the family. Rather than driving, pick up your sneakers, blades or bicycle to get to your destination. Doing so can significantly contribute to the daily physical activity that is required for overall health.

Not only does active transportation improve overall health, but it's a great way for families to stay active and spend time together season after season. Here are a few easy tips to incorporate active transportation into your life:

• Encourage and support your children to engage in active transportation, like walking and cycling to and from school whenever possible;

• Take turns leading a 'walking school bus' with other parents in your neighbourhood when that's a safe option;

• Instead of driving to recreational activities like hockey or dance class, factor in extra time to walk;

• Park the car a short distance from school or other destinations, and walk the rest of the way when it's not possible to walk the whole way;

• Rather than driving to the grocery store, make it a fun family activity by walking or cycling there.

If kids walked for all trips less than one kilometre, they would accumulate approximately 15-20 minutes of walking per trip... and that adds up. Small changes can definitely have a huge impact.

If you would like to see some additional ways to integrate active transportation into your family's lifestyle, visit

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