Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Each year, Active Healthy Kids Canada produces a report card evaluating the physical activity levels in Canadian youth. Not surprisingly, we have a history of underachieving. In fact, this is the third straight year that Youth Physical Activity Levels have received a grade of "F". However, in contrast to previous years, this year's report card shows signs for hope. For instance, research suggests that 13% of the youth population is now physically active, in comparison to 9% in 2006. That still leaves 87% who are not getting adequate amounts of physical activity, but at least the trend is moving in the right direction (leave it to us Canadians to look at the glass as 13% full rather than 87% empty) .
In addition to an overall grade for physical activity levels, the report card also examines a number of other measures related to physical activity. Highlights of this year's report card were the areas of Sport and Recreation Infrastructure and Community Programming, which received marks of B and B+ respectively. In contrast, two areas of personal interest, Active Transportation (Grade = D) and Screen Time (Grade = F) are both areas that could use a lot of improvement. For example, even though 2/3 of kids live within walking distance of their school, only 1/3 have ever done so. Even worse, 90% of Canadian youth accumulate more than 2 hours of screen time each day. That is a lot of screen time!
As you can surmise from the cover of this year's report card (above photo), a specific focus of this year's report card was the link between physical activity and academic performance. Quoting from the press release:
"The Report Card notes that by improving memory, concentration and attention span, physical activity positively impacts children’s achievement in math, reading, grades, perceptual skill and overall academic readiness. Physical activity has also been shown to increase a child’s self-confidence, self-esteem, self-image and connection to school."
The report card is evidence based, and contains a staggering amount of information on the physical activity levels of Canadian youth. For people interested in this area, it is a must read. The report card is available in a (very) long form, which will likely appeal to the research minded among us, as well as a short form which summarizes things very nicely for the rest of us. For more information on the Active Healthy Kids report card, including power point slides and previous reports, please click here.
UPDATE: To ask Dr Tremblay your own physical activity related questions through the CBC website, click here.
1. Ten simple ways to become more physically active.
2. Public transit users get more physical activity.
3. Can sitting too much kill you?
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