Canadian kids ranked amongst least active in the whole world, study says
A new study says that Canadian kids aren’t getting nearly enough physical activity as they should be and the country is ranked among the bottom of the list of least active children in the whole world.
The annual ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth says that just nine percent of kids aged five to 17 are involved in minimum of 60 minutes of ‘heart-pumping activity’ per day.
To make matters worse, the study also showed that just 24 percent of that group meets the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guideline of no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day.
The agency gave Canadian kids a D- for their level of physical activity for the fourth year in a row.
The ranking puts Canada alongside other developed countries including Argentina, England, Spain and the United States.
Slovenia, where 86 percent of boys and 76 percent of girls get enough physical activity, got top marks in the study.
Belgium, Chile, China, Qatar and Scotland all received an ‘F’.
The study also showed that an increasing number of Canadian kids are getting less sleep than they need and it is negatively affecting their education.
Officials say that 33 percent of kids aged five to 13 find it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep at least some of the time.
43 percent of 16 to 17 year olds aren’t getting enough sleep during the week and 31 percent of school-aged kids and 26 percent of adolescents are found to be sleep-deprived.
The lack of proper sleep leads to a myriad of difficulties including hyperactivity, impulsiveness and a short attention span. It can also create struggles with verbal creativity, problem solving and depression.
ParticipACTION also included a set of guidelines in the study that says would help improve the situation.
The agency says adopting healthy sleep hygiene habits, enforcing limits on sedentary behaviours and participating in a range of physical activities will all help improve health.
Officials say that those not currently meeting the guidelines should adjust their routine slowly.
Instructors and parents at the YMCA in Calgary agree that it is very important to establish an active routine for young kids and head off their lazy habits before they develop.
Tracy McDermott, the preschool director at the Shawnessy YMCA, says activity often depends on what time of year it is.
“Wintertime, parents bring them out more. They tend to do more outside activities in the summertime. I have noticed it being on that sort of trend, being a mom as well.”
She says that physical literacy is very important not only for herself but for the preschool programs she runs as well.
McDermott says that the programs are perfect for families because it gets parents moving too. “It gets them going and it brings the families closer together. We’re always interested in having them work around things and getting them in here and meeting friends.”
Carol Maxwell brings her grandson to the YMCA and says it’s important for him to come because he has a lot of energy and needs an outlet.
“This class is excellent. He’s learned a lot about different sports. At this age they are learning so much, so quickly. If you miss that opportunity, then you just miss the mark.”
She says that part of the problem with kids getting too much screen time has to do with the parents’ schedules. “Parents are so busy so they put the kids in front of the TV.”
Erin Warner brings her son to the program to learn a lot of vital skills that he would need to pursue sports in the future. “He’s learning running, jumping, kicking, catching; all the simple movements that they start to learn.”
Warner says the preschool years are the perfect time to start a love for physical activity. “If you don’t start it now, they don’t build the habits and so this is when they learn that it’s fun; it’s fun to run, fun to jump. So when they start doing sports, it’s not a chore.”
(Wtih files from the Canadian Press)