Each year, ParticiPACTION, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Canadian sit less and move more, rates how much physical activity children in Canada are getting. In 2016, our rating was a big fat D-, consistent with our recent years’ results. While many children participate in organized sports or physical activities, only 37% of 11-15 year olds are playing outdoors for more than two hours each day. And only 25% of parents say that their children, aged 5 to 17, typically walk or wheel to school, while 58% say that their children are typically driven. What’s more, they’ve found that only 15% of children aged 3 to 4 meet the guideline of no more than 1 hour of screen time per day while only 24% of children aged 5 to 17 meet the guideline of no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. And all of this sedentary behaviour is wreaking havoc on their sleep! In recent decades, children are sleeping 30-60 minutes less and their quality of sleep has decreased. To sum it up, kids aren’t moving enough to be tired, and they may also be too tired to move due to a lack of good quality sleep.
So how activity should your kids be getting? And how much activity should we ALL be getting? ParticiPACTION’s newest 24 Hour Movement Guidelines provides recommendations on the amount and type of physical activity that people in each age group should have. The guidelines are very well written and easy to understand. They touch on the recommended amounts of light activity, moderate to vigorous activity, sedentary activity, and sleep that we should be getting.
Building on ParticiPACTION’s recommendation, it is also that we spend time outdoors each and every day. Not only does it allow us to get more fresh air and have more sun exposure (smartly and safely of course), it also nurture’s children’s appreciation for the natural world and the healthy development of their young minds and spirits. Both the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the US National Wildlife Federation have a large online database of outdoor activities that you can do with your children on their websites. The National Wildlife Federation website even has activities categorized by participant age, cost, duration, level of physical challenge and level of difficulty. Check them out and let me know what you think!