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New Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years

April 9, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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On March 27th, new guidelines promoting increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour time for the early years (0-4) were released by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and endorsed by the province. They were developed by CSEP and ParticipACTION.

The goal of these guidelines is to get this well known yet undervalued statement across:  " MOVE MORE & SIT LESS EVERY DAY!"
The first few years of life are critical to optimal growth and development and so is physical activity participation! This being said, the guidelines are very important if we want to provide our children and youth with the "BEST CHANCE" for optimal mental and physical wellbeing later on in life.

The guidelines provide the following recommendations for healthy growth and development:

Infants (aged less than 1 year) should be active several times daily- particularly through interactive floor based play

Examples of interactive floor based play include but aren’t limited to:

  • Lots and lots of supervised tummy time on a safe surface for your baby to kick, kick kick and MOVE MOVE MOVE!
  • Tummy time helps your baby learn to roll and crawl around. It also helps the head develop properly.
  • Click here for a great resource on tummy time from The Best Chance BC
  • Supervised creeping and crawling around the baby safe home
  • Prolonged supervised bath time with toys to kick, reach, play and develop balance
  • Reaching for and or grasping for a variety of balls or other toys (make sure all toys are clean, safe, and chewable!)

Toddlers (ages 1-2 years) and preschoolers (aged 3-4 years) should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at ANY intensity spread throughout the day, including:

  • A variety of activities in different environments (e.g. in and outdoors, supervised toddler pools, safe playgrounds).
  • Activities that develop movement skills (e.g. climbing stairs, crawling, brisk walking, dancing and running)
  • As your toddler grows, aim to accumulate at least 60 minutes of energetic play by 5 years of age (e.g. activities and sports that include hopping, skipping, jumping, biking etc.)

Important note: Parents behaviours are a big influence on their children's. It’s important for them to take a lead role by making an effort to integrate physical activity, and healthy living behaviours into the daily life of children at as young an age as possible!

PS. Please look out for Part two of this blog, discussing sedentary behaviours and strategies to eliminate them in children and youth.

For more info and guidance check out the references and resources below!

Keep Positive, Keep Smiling, and KEEP MOVING!


References and Resources:

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