Inexpensive Sport Options for Children in Canada

There are plenty of inexpensive sport options for kids to enjoy and stay healthy at the same time. Kids are born to explore the world by catching, jumping, crawling, and running. Besides, physical activity offers tons of benefits such as improved energy levels, weight control, and improved cognitive and mental skills. Sports such as swimming, soccer, volleyball, and basketball are inexpensive compared to hockey, gymnastics, lacrosse, and martial arts.

Choosing from Inexpensive Options

Swimming

The most inexpensive sport option for children is swimming, with anticipated spending of about $193 per year. Swimming also offers plenty of benefits such as improved posture, balance, flexibility, and strength. It is also good for emotional and mental health and improves social skills and self-confidence.

Volleyball

This is another inexpensive extracurricular option that costs about $270 per year on average. Volleyball is associated with multiple benefits such as improved balance, speed, and hand-eye coordination, improved metabolic rate, and enhanced social and interpersonal skills.

Basketball

Anticipated spending for basketball is at about $248 per year. It is also a popular sport in Canada that draws hundreds of thousands of participants. Playing basketball is also beneficial for children in many ways as it helps strengthen the immune system, improves cognition and mental development, improves bone strength, and burns calories.

Soccer

Soccer is also a fairly inexpensive extracurricular option, and the average spending is at about $248 a year. It is also one of the most popular sports in Canada, and statistics show that it has become the sport of choice of 5- to-14 girls and boys.

Other sports options that are fairly inexpensive include baseball, skating, and football. Playing baseball costs about $292 a year, skating costs about $305 a year, and football - $306 a year. More expensive options include lacrosse ($520 a year), dance lessons ($585 a year), and hockey ($755 a year). Prices vary from one province to another, however. The anticipated average spending for hockey is $450 in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, $756 in British Columbia, and $1,200 in Alberta. Parents pay about $488 for soccer in Alberta but just $188 in Ontario.

Factors That Influence the Choice of Sport and Activity Levels

A recent Ipsos poll by Global News reveals that swimming is not only the most inexpensive sport option but also a preferred choice for many. Some 40 percent of parents plan to enroll their children in swimming lessons, 9 percent chose basketball, and 25 percent – soccer. At the same time, affordability is not the only factor to enroll children in different sports (see affordability). Boys are more likely to choose sports such as ice hockey and soccer while girls are more engaged in basketball and swimming. The choice of sport is also influenced by factors such as location, parental involvement, income level, children’s age. When it comes to location, children in large urban centers are the least active while those in small cities and towns are the most active. Children of parents with higher education and high incomes are also more likely to be active and play sports. Other factors also have a role to play, including relative safety of communities and neighborhoods, availability and quality of facilities, as well as availability of school programs.

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Physical Activity and Children’s Health in Canada

Physical activity is very important for children’s health, development, and cognition. The lack of physical exertion and activity is associated with health problems such as high blood cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and low muscle tone.

Benefits for Children

Regular physical exertion offers a number of benefits, among which improved skeletal and bone health, good motor development, improved executive functioning and language development. Physical activity is important for brain development and is positively associated with improved attention and focus, enhanced self-esteem, and improved self-control and emotional regulation. Outdoor play, in particular, offers multiple benefits such as lower aggression and anxiety levels, improved ability to cooperate, follow instructions, and maintain relationships, etc. Finally, active play helps children to develop good risk management and problem solving skills, explore and learn about the environment and their strengths and boundaries, and develop their motor skills. Children with different psychological disorders also benefit from physical exercise, including those with autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Canadian Children and Activity Levels

According to a resent ParticipACTION report, 62 percent of Canadian children aged 3 to 4 and 35 percent of children in the age group 5 to 7 are getting enough exercise and physical activity. Screen time is one of the main reasons for this. The study reveals that 76 percent of kids aged 3 to 4 and 51 percent of children aged 5 to 17 have more screen time than the recommended.

Physical activity includes organized sports, physical education, leisure activities and active play, and active transportation. These cover activities such as bone and muscle strengthening exercise, aerobic exercise, and energetic play, based on age. The main sources of activity for young children aged 5 to 11 include play (27 percent), team or league sports and lessons (15 percent), school class time (20 percent), and free time at school (37 percent). The sources of physical activity are different for children aged 12 to 17. These include part-time work and activity at home (5 percent), exercise and sport (41 percent), school based activities (33 percent), and active transportation (21 percent). The Global Matrix 3.0 on Physical Activity ranks countries based on factors such as sedentary behavior, active transportation, active play, organized physical activity and sport, and overall activity. In terms of overall activity, Slovenia scored A- while countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana got C. Canada scored D+, together with countries such as Colombia, Bulgaria, Wales, and Sweden. Canada also scored B+ on organized sport and physical activity while Scotland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Germany scored B. The matrix also looks at factors such as government, community and environment, school, family, and peers, and physical fitness. In terms of physical fitness, Canada scored D, along with countries such as China, Chile, and Finland. There are different reasons and policies that contribute to earning high grades. Japan, for example, has implemented a walking-to-school policy and scored high across different indicators, including A for physical fitness and A- for active transportation. According to researchers, policies that encourage children to bike and walk to school will help Canada to score better.

Indigenous Children

The group of children, adolescents, and young people makes for about 45 percent of aboriginal people in Canada. The problem is that many children and adolescents lack access to organized activities and programming. The main reasons include safety concerns, remoteness and isolation, lack of resources. One study conducted in James Bay reveals that 63 percent of children in grades 6 and 7 are obese or overweight.