Children are growing and developing. They are building their balance and coordination, developing their bodies and their minds. They are learning through play with others, alone and by exploring and interacting with the world around them. Physical activity and being outdoors in nature are both key to this development.
For healthy growth and development it is suggested that:
- Children age 0-4 be active daily (e.g., children age 0-1 – interactive floor play several times a day, children age 1-4 – 180 minutes of activity daily). It is also beneficial to minimize sedentary activity (e.g., Limit screen time to 1 hour or less a day for children over 2 years of age. Below 2 years no screen time is recommended). Looking for ways to give your child an active start? See these play activity ideas.
- Children age 5-11 do moderate to vigorous activity daily (e.g., 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, including vigorous and strength activities 3 x a week, or more). It is also beneficial to minimize sedentary time (e.g., 2 hours or less of recreational screen time per day). See how your family can build physical activity into your day with some of these activities.
- It is important for children to have both a healthy body and a healthy mind as they are connected to each other. Ignoring either one could affect your physical and mental health. For tips have a look at our fact sheets:
How Active are Canadian Children?
Every year Canada is assessed to see how we are doing re: physical activity and children and youth. Each year different themes are explored and highlighted along with our grades for the different categories.
- 2016 The Importance of Sleep.
- 2015 The Importance of Risky Play and Nature.
- 2014 How We Are Doing Compared to Other Countries.
- 2013 How Much Kids Travel Using Active Transportation.
- 2012 Active Play vs Screen Time.
- 2011 Physical Activity After School.
- 2010 Physical Activity in the Early Years.
Children benefit from building basic physical and health literacy skills (e.g., hopping, balancing, throwing). These skills can be learned by doing a variety of activities that they can enjoy, and build their confidence to be active into adulthood. Learning how to build physical literacy is a great place to start. These skills can be learned at school, in daycares or at home.
Schools can provide many opportunities for children to be active throughout the day both while children travel to school and during the school day. This helps with learning and development.
- Health and physical literacy is the foundation people need to be active. Finding opportunities to build this foundation will instill confidence and increase activity levels e.g., through Physical Education courses, unstructured play opportunities during recess and breaks.
- Pause to play! is an opportunity for schools to challenge students to turn off their screens (TV, Computer, iPod, Cell phone) and spend that time going outside and doing a variety of other activities instead.
- Having outdoor classrooms and learning, playground spaces, outdoor games, bike racks, and safe and active routes to school create the opportunities kids need to move more.
- Explore your schools policies and programs to see what they are doing to create more play opportunities and daily activity. Some could include: DPA, student led activities at recess, school travel planning.
- For other resources for schools, have a look at the schools section of our website.