ParticipACTION gives children and youth a low grade for physical activity


According to a recent report, Canadians are falling short when it comes to ensuring their children get enough exercise.

The nonprofit ParticipACTION has released this year’s report card on young people’s physical health, indicating a worrying downward trend.

Researchers found that children and youth in Canada were less active than in 2020, giving a D grade for overall physical activity, downgraded from D+ in 2020.

The report indicates that 28% of children get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

“It’s probably no surprise why we’ve seen this decline given that the last couple of years opportunities to be active have been taken away. Schools have moved to a virtual environment. We relied heavily on screens, more than usual in terms of how we learned,” says ParticipAction Scientific Director Dr. Leigh Vanderloo.

Not only has screen use increased for educational purposes, but only 18% of children reach the recommended daily cap of two hours for recreational screen time, resulting in an F for sedentary behavior on the report card. .

“It’s really important that we start looking at ways to start replacing screen use and screen time with other forms of entertainment, even reading,” says the Dr Vanderloo.

She recommends adults and parents look at their screen usage habits, so it’s not just about the child.

“Are we often on screens at home? Do we have screens in the room? Do we allow screens at the table, ”she adds.

Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital’s chief of neonatal and pediatric medicine, Dr. Ryan Smith, says insufficient physical activity can pose serious health risks to children.

“Increased rates of obesity and overweight in the child population, including hypertension, high blood pressure, risk of type 2 diabetes which has its own complications, increased cholesterol and fluid levels” , says Dr. Smith.

Dr. Vanderloo says it’s also essential to look at social barriers to health, including income, education and geography.

“To really make sure these families and children have the supports they need to help make the healthy choice the easy choice,” she adds.

However, there were some bright spots in this year’s report. Dr. Vanderloo says active play and active transportation have improved and more families have embraced parks, trails and outdoor spaces.


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