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Are Canadian kids too tired to move?

Key Message

The report urges Canadians to create policies, strategies, and facilities and re-establish year-round outdoor play, transportation, recreation and sport as norms.


ParticipACTION. Are Canadian kids too tired to move? The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: ParticipACTION, 2016.


The ParticipACTION Report Card on  Physical Activity for Children and  Youth  is the most comprehensive assessment  of child and youth physical activity in Canada.  The Report Card synthesizes data from multiple  sources, including the best available peer- reviewed research, to assign evidence-informed  grades across 12 indicators. Over the years, the  Report Card has been replicated in numerous  cities, provinces and countries, where it has  served as a blueprint for collecting and sharing  knowledge about the physical activity of young  people around the world. This Report Card includes new  Canadian  24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children  and Youth: An Integration of Physical Activity,  Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep  – the first of  their kind in the world – and, for the first time,  assigns a Sleep grade. 


Emerging research highlights  the importance of  physical activity for healthy brain development, which can  lead to improved learning and academic outcomes. For  example, researchers have shown that children who are  physically active for as little as 20 minutes daily have more  active brains, better standardized test scores,  and  improved attention in the classroom.  Additionally, grades  2 and 3 students who participated in math and spelling  lessons that involved physical activity for two years made  greater gains in mathematics and spelling compared to  their peers who did not participate in physically active  academic lessons. Preliminary evidence also suggests  that physical activity may benefit cognitive development  in early childhood (birth to 5 years of age). As well,  researchers are beginning to recognize that excessive  sedentary time negatively influences brain health and may  even counteract the benefits of activity. Preliminary  evidence from a recent systematic review suggests that  reading is beneficial to cognitive development in early  childhood (birth to 5 years of age), while screen time is not  beneficial and may even be detrimental.  These findings  stress the importance of sufficient physical activity and  limited sedentary time for healthy brain development.

On the other hand, only 9% of Canadian kids  aged 5 to 17 get the 60  minutes of heart-pumping activity they need each  day. Only 24% of 5- to 17-year-olds  meet the  Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommendation of no more than 2 hours of recreational  screen time per day. In recent decades,  children’s sleep duration has  decreased by about 30 to 60 minutes. Every hour kids spend  in sedentary activities  delays their bedtime by 3 minutes. And the average  5- to 17-year-old Canadian spends 8.5 hours being  sedentary each day at least some of the time. 33% of Canadian children  aged 5 to 13, and 45%  of youth aged 14 to 17, have trouble falling asleep or  staying asleep at least some of the time. 36% of 14- to 17-year-olds  find it difficult to stay  awake during the day at least sometimes. 31% of school-aged kids  and 26% of adolescents  in Canada are sleep-deprived.


Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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