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Canada’s New Activity Guidelines

Canada’s New Activity Guidelines

February 14th, 2011  |  Published in Health, Science & Research, wellness

Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well-being and quality of life of all Canadians, and it is particularly important for children and youth. Habits formed early can last a lifetime.

Children and youth need to move more! Encourage them to join in activities they enjoy. An active lifestyle with at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day brings health benefits now, and helps them grow up to become healthy, active adults.

How much physical activity do children and youth need?


Children aged 5-11 and youth aged 12-17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. But more is even better!

To make the most of their physical activity, try to include

  • vigorous-intensity activities at least three days per week
  • activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week.

More physical activity provides health benefits.  Encourage children and youth to move more as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Ideas to get moving:

– Encourage walking to school and getting active as a family
– Get them to skateboard, bike or run instead of getting a ride
– Ask them to walk the dog with you
– Have them rake the leaves, shovel snow or carry the groceries
– Encourage them to dance to their favourite music
– Learn which sports and activities they enjoy and find lessons or clubs for them if you can
– Replace computer and TV time with something active
– Build active opportunities into daily classroom routines and encourage students to join a school sport team
– Take kids to the playground or to the park to play Health benefits:

– Improve fitness– Stronger bones and healthier muscles– Better posture and balance– Stronger heart– Healthy growth and development
– Increased concentration – Better academic scores– Improved self-esteem– Lower stress– Opportunities for socializing

Combine aerobic and strengthening activities

To achieve health benefits, children and youth need to do both aerobic and strengthening activities. Aerobic activities result in faster breathing, a warmer feeling and an increased heart rate. Strengthening activities build muscles and bones.

What is moderate to vigorous aerobic activity?

On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 0 being completely at rest and 10 being absolute maximum effort), moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. Kids will breathe harder and their hearts will beat faster. They should be able to talk, but not sing.  Examples of moderate physical activity include walking quickly, skating, bike riding, skateboarding.

Vigorousintensity activity is a 7 or 8. Their heart rate will increase even more and they will not be able to say more than a few words without catching a breath. Examples of vigorous activity include running, basketball, soccer and cross-country skiing.

What are strengthening activities?

Muscle-strengthening activities build up the muscles. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for youth include doing push-ups and curl-ups. For kids, climbing and swinging on playground equipment is an example of a muscle strengthening activity.

With bone-strengthening activities, muscles push against bones helping make them stronger. Examples of bone-strengthening activities include running, walking, and jumping rope.

Get them active after school

After school is a great time to be physically active. Suggest activities other than TV/computer. Sign your kids up for active programs or encourage active ways to get home from school.

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