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Are Canadian children active enough? The results are in!

How was “Healthy Me Week” for you? Did you get up, fuel up and own up? Those were the messages the YMCA want every Canadian family to listen to – the way to a healthier you is through exercise, healthy eating and taking a bit of ownership over your life.

And it couldn’t come at a better time. The 2014 Active Kids report card has just come out, and Canada has a lot of room for improvement. We scored a D- on overall “Physical Activity” Levels, with our kids just not moving enough to meet the requirements. There’s a sharp drop as kids get older – 84% of all 3-4-year-olds meet the standards required but only 7% of 5-11s. That’s a massive decrease, and the news doesn’t get better – only 4% of 12-17-year-olds meet the requirements. That means 96% of our teens are too sedentary, with the report saying the average teen spends 9.3 hours a day sitting still. This seems at odds with the 75% of 5-19-year-olds who participate in active sports, but the fact is that organized activities cannot replace just being active every day. Take softball as an example, in one game, only 2% of kids get a full 60 minutes of exercise. But, parents tend to look to organized activities to fulfill their child’s exercise needs, while spending the rest of the time driving them from place to place so their kids never have to walk. The report says “Our country values efficiency – doing more in less time – which may be at direct odds with promoting children’s health.” In other words, it’s more important to parents to get their children to softball practice on time than it is to let them walk and get the exercise.

But it’s not all bad news, in the section on “Community and the Built Environment”, we scored a B+, which puts us at world leader level with only Australia ahead of us. Impressively, 95% of parents said they had easy access to a park or outdoor space and 94% have access to leisure facilities such as swimming pools. We have the structures in place, we just over-organize our kids so they never have time to enjoy it. As the report says “In Canada, there is a tendency to build more, do more and impose more structure, but perhaps these efforts are somewhat misguided”. We also scored reasonably high on school-organized activities, with a C+ grade so we’re obviously well organized when it comes to sports provision, both inside and outside of school. But, maybe it’s time to relax the strict timetables a bit and just let our kids play like kids should. Let’s do better in 2015!


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!


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