Getting kids moving

Getting sedentary kids moving for even 30 minutes a day can be beneficial for their health, according to new research which also proposes updating physical activity guidelines for Canada’s children and adults.

Getting sedentary kids moving for even 30 minutes a day can be beneficial for their health, according to new research which also proposes updating physical activity guidelines for Canada’s children and adults.

The new recommendations unveiled Wednesday by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and ParticipAction are based on more than three years of research analysis by CSEP.

Existing guides indicate Canadian children and youth should have at least 90 minutes of physical activity per day. But the new recommendations are actually lowering the bar, saying kids aged five to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily — 30 minutes less than currently suggested.

Overall, the recommendations proposed for youngsters suggest time allocated for physical activity would be from 60 minutes up to several hours each day.

The guidelines for children and youth were last updated in 2002. ParticipAction president and CEO Kelly Murumets said when research was done at the time to establish those guidelines, sedentary behaviour wasn’t as much of an issue as it is today.

The recent release of Active Healthy Kids Canada’s report card revealed that only 12 per cent of Canadian youngsters were getting the current recommended amount of daily physical activity.

CSEP and ParticipAction also say clarity on activity recommendations is needed since the report card found only 27 per cent parents knew how much activity their kids should be getting daily.

“Are we saying that our kids need less physical activity?.. No, unequivocally that is not the message that should be derived from the research,” said Murumets.

“In fact, it is telling us that because our kids are so sedentary, at least if we could get them to 30 minutes or 60 minutes of physical activity per day, they would realize measurable benefits.

But ultimately, though, we would like to get them to 90 minutes or even more physical activity per day.”

As for adults, the new recommendations call for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity, compared to current guidelines of 30 to 60 minutes daily.

Murumets said while current and proposed guidelines are fairly similar, the new recommendations have made it a bit more general when it comes to adults deciding how to allocate their activity time.

They also build on the current guidelines by recommending the inclusion of muscle and bone strengthening activities like weight training and playing tennis along with endurance and flexibility activities.

Murumets said the hope is that the Public Health Agency of Canada, which funded CSEP’s research, will work with the organization to determine what to do with the findings, and how they might be translated into new physical activity guidelines for Canadians.