93% GTA children not getting enough exercise, report says

Published On March 5, 2013 | By HN Staff | News
By Pete (originally posted to Flickr as determination_0970) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Pete (originally posted to Flickr as determination_0970) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Doreen Dawang

A new report indicates that 93 per cent of children in the GTA are not getting enough exercise.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University monitored the physical activity of 856 children in Grades 5 and 6 from participating schools in the GTA in 2011.

Canada’s physical activity guidelines recommend children aged five to 17 should get at least 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

Jennifer Cowie Bonne, CEO of Active Healthy Kids Canada, told Humber News she was shocked to hear those results.

“When you think about 60-minutes – and that’s cumulative through out the day – you don’t have to do 60-minutes all at once,” Cowie Bonne said. “It really isn’t as difficult as we sometimes think.”

For one week, the children wore accelerometers, tiny devices that are like pedometers, but can measure all types of motion, even when the kids are sedentary.

Cowie Bonne said it’s disappointing that children are not getting the recommended daily amount of exercise, despite the fact that the Ontario curriculum requires all elementary schools to provide at least 20-minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

“Although the requirement is there, there’s no curriculum police around every school, seeing if it’s happening everyday,” she said.

Cowie Bonne said the results don’t mean children are not getting any physical activity.

“It doesn’t mean that they’re getting zero,” Cowie Bonne said. “It means that they’re somewhere between zero and 60.”

Leanne Henwood Adam, fitness coordinator at Humber College, is a mother of two young children and understands why the percentage is high in children.

“Mom and dad are busy working a lot more hours than it’s ever been in the past,” Henwood Adam told Humber News. “And so, kids are left with grandparents or sitters who may not be getting them outside and active.”

Henwood Adam said parents should be more involved in increasing their child’s exercise by simply joining them in their activities.

“A lot of adults have become sedentary as well,” Henwood Adam said. “If children don’t have a role model to look up to, they’re not going to want to exercise.”

Henwood Adam said parents are under the assumption that their kids have to be part of an organized sport to get their daily exercise, but that shouldn’t be the case.

“You don’t need money to be active,” Henwood Adam said. “A game of tag or hide and seek really costs nothing except your time.”

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