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Breaking down the Canadian 24 hour movement guidelines for children and youth

July 24, 2018 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Breaking down the Canadian 24 hour movement guidelines for children and youth

When it comes to your kids, it can often seem like there isn’t enough time in the day for everything to get done. Between checking that they’ve finished their homework and that they’ve brushed their teeth, you also need to make sure they’re staying active and getting enough sleep.

How many hours of sleep per night are recommended for your child at their age? And how much activity do they need throughout the day to experience optimal health benefits? The Canadian 24 hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth for ages 5-17 were created to help answer these exact questions.

Let’s breakdown the guidelines into more detail with 4 simple categories: sweat, step, sleep, and sit.

Vigorous intensity and muscle strengthening activities – vigorous activity is more intense than moderate, shown by increased sweat production and being out of breath, making it hard to talk. This intensity level of aerobic activity along with muscle strengthening activities should be conducted at least 3 times per week.

    • 1) Sweat – Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity

      • Children and youth aged 5-17 need to accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity each day.
      • Moderate intensity causes an increase in breathing frequency, heart rate and sweat production. A talk test is the best way to determine your intensity level – at a moderate intensity level you are still able to carry a conversation without pausing to take a breath.
      • Muscle strengthening activities at least 3 days per week will harvest health benefits of bone growth and improve their self-confidence.
    • 2) Step – Light Physical Activity

      • Reduce screen time and replace it with light physical activity for several hours (more than 3 hours) each day.
      • Light physical activity can be as simple as going outdoors to play instead of being stuck indoors and sitting in front of the computer or television.
    • 3) Sleep – Sufficient and Uninterrupted sleep

      • Children aged 5-13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night; whereas youth aged 14-17 require 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.
      • Physical activity can help improve sleep patterns and contribute to a good night’s sleep.
      • Practice consistent sleeping habits by following the same wake up time and bed time on a regular basis. This will help lead to a healthier sleep for your child.
    • 4) Sit – Sedentary Behaviour

      • Reduce your child’s sedentary behaviour by limiting screen time to less than two hours per day.
      • After spending a whole school day in the classroom, why not spend some quality time together by being active as a family? This could mean playing catch, riding bikes, or doing a craft together.
      • Your child looks up to you as a role model. When a parent takes part in the activity, children watch and learn. This can help a child lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

For healthy eating tips and physical activity ideas check out Appetite to Play. Their interactive website contains a variety of resources and tools designed to help you and your child stay active and lead a healthier lifestyle.

For help integrating these recommendations into your child’s life, contact one of our qualified exercise professionals. Dial 8-1-1 and ask to speak with Physical Activity Services. Qualified exercise professionals are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Pacific Standard Time.

There are many different ways for your child to be active. Whether it’s involving the whole family, being active outdoors or using your imagination for indoor play, get creative and don’t forget to have fun!

Author’s Bio: Jillian Mak is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.  She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University. In the spring and summer seasons, you will catch Jillian at the golf course swinging the club or kayaking along the lakes of the Burrard inlet.

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