The Facts About Physical Activity and Canadian Youth

It is important to understand the facts and statistics regarding physical activity and our youth because statistics put into light the current condition of Canadian youth’s physical literacy. The reason why I decided to focus on the youth in this blog is because physical literacy learned in the early years will follow through into the years of adulthood, promoting heart health (Colley, Garriguet, Adamo, Carson, Janssen, Timmons & Tremblay, 2013). One half of Canada’s population is inactive (Canning, Brown, Jamnik, Salmon, Ardern & Kuk, 2014), therefore a push towards getting youth more physically active will get the majority of the country active in future years.

Not only does improved physical literacy in the early years promote improved physical literacy in the later years, but as I have mentioned before, improved physical literacy improves the well-being of youth overall. Active youth are youth with lower percentages of body fat, improved motor skill development, healthier psychological health, and increased cardio-metabolic indicators. On the opposing end, but equally as important, a reduction in sedentary lifestyle improves psychosocial and cognitive develoment (Colley et. al, 2013). With the prevalence of bullying among today’s youth, it is important for kids to develop strong social bonds and maintain a network of friends one can rely and depend on.

It is important to understand the facts and statistics regarding physical activity and our youth because statistics put into light the current condition of Canadian youth’s physical literacy. The reason why I decided to focus on youth in this blog is because physical literacy learned in the early years will follow through into the years of adulthood, promoting heart health (Colley, Garriguet, Adamo, Carson, Janssen, Timmons & Tremblay, 2013). One half of Canada’s population is inactive (Canning, Brown, Jamnik, Salmon, Ardern & Kuk, 2014), therefore a push towards getting youth more physically active will hopefully get the majority of the country active in future years.

Not only does improved physical literacy in the early years promote improved physical literacy in the later years, but increased physical literacy improves the well-being of youth overall. Active youth are youth with lower percentages of body fat, improved motor skill development, healthier psychological health, and increased cardio-metabolic indicators. On the opposing end, but equally as important, a reduction in sedentary lifestyle improves psychosocial and cognitive development (Colley et. al, 2013). It is important for kids to develop strong social bonds and maintain a network of friends they can rely and depend on.

The numbers researchers have reported about youth and physical activity are alarming. About 7-10% of youth under the age of 19 are meeting the guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily (Hobin, Leatherdale, Manske, Dubin, Elliott, & Veugelers, 2013; Barnes, Colley, & Tremblay, 2012). This low number could be because of the fact that 62% of a youth’s time is spent doing sedentary activities like watching television or surfing the internet. This accumulates up to 6 hours a day on weekdays and up to 7 hours a day on the weekend (Barnes, Colley, & Tremblay, 2012).

The unfortunate news of it all is that the numbers mentioned above shouldn’t be anywhere near as low or as high as they are. Parents are reporting that 77-93% of children have the ability to participate in extra-curriculars run by the school, or make use of public facilities and programs within their community (Barnes, Colley, & Tremblay, 2012). If you are reading this as an adult with children, become a role model. Set a good example for your children. Take extra initiative getting yourself a little more active and perhaps get your children to participate in physical activity with you. Not only will this improve the heart health of you and your child, but it will form or strengthen a connection that will be appreciated and cherished by all parties.

If you are following this blog, keep posted for further insight into outlets and methods for improving physical activity among youth and adults. You can also follow @HeartNiagara on Twitter for further info on Heart Health options throughout your day.

By Jonathan Cairns, OCT

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.

References:

Barnes, J.D., Colley, R.C., & Tremblay, M.S. (2012). Results from the active healthy kids Canada 2011 report card on physical activity for children and youth. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 37, 793-797 http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=13&sid=0617dcb9-412a-4de4-ab93-70157ff78af0%40sessionmgr114&hid=124

Canning, K.L., Brown, R.E., Jamnik, V.K., Salmon, A., Ardern, C.I., & Kuk, J.L. (2014). Individuals underestimate moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity. PLOS One, 9(5), 1-5 http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=5&sid=0617dcb9-412a-4de4-ab93-70157ff78af0%40sessionmgr114&hid=124

Colley, R.C., Garriguet, D., Adamo, K.B., Carson, V., Janssen, I., Timmons, B.W., & Tremblay, M.S. (2013). Physical activity and sedentary behaviour during the early years in Canada: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(54), 1-9 http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=18&sid=0617dcb9-412a-4de4-ab93-70157ff78af0%40sessionmgr114&hid=124

Hobin, E.P., Leatherdale, S., Manske, S., Dubin, J.A., Elliott, S., & Veugelers, P. (2013). Are environmental influences  of physical activity distinct for urban, suburban, and rural schools? A multilevel study among secondary school students in Ontario, Canada. Journal of School Health, 83(5), 357-367 http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=14&sid=0617dcb9-412a-4de4-ab93-70157ff78af0%40sessionmgr114&hid=124

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