The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was published on June 16, and the findings are eye-opening. The Report Card is the most comprehensive assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada and it draws upon data from peer-reviewed research in an effort to assign grades to 12 key indicators of physical activity. This year’s Report Card integrates the new Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, which emphasizes the importance of balancing vigorous and light physical activity with sleep and sedentary behaviours. These guidelines argue that being more active, getting enough sleep, and limiting sitting and screen time can help children to improve their overall health, do better in school, improve their self-esteem and feel more confident.
While all 12 indicators are important, the findings of a few key indicators paint a stark picture of the physical activity habits of Canadian youth. For the fourth year in a row, Overall Physical Activity, as defined by the recommendations of the 24-hour Movement Guidelines, received a grade of D-. In one study, only 9% of children aged 5-17, received at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on at least six days of the week. A failing grade of F was assigned to the Sedentary Behaviours indicator as it was found that very few Canadian children are meeting the recommendations of no more than 2 hours of screen time per day and limited sitting for extended periods of time. The 2016 Report Card also includes a new indicator, Sleep, which at a grade of B indicates that over half of children and youth in Canada meet the new sleep recommendations of the 24-hour Movement Guidelines. Generally, the Report Card highlights how sleep interacts with physical activity and sedentary behaviours and the important role these three factors play in the overall health and wellness of Canadian children and youth.
“To stem the creeping “sleepidemic,” kids need to get off the couch, get outdoors and get their hearts pumping regularly. It’s time for a wake-up call.”