Physical activity of Canadian children and youth

Release date: October 18, 2017
Infographic: Physical activity of Canadian children and youth
Description: Physical activity of Canadian children and youth

The new Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, released in 2016, recommend that children accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity per day.Reference 1 Physical activity means moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). These activities will cause children to sweat and breathe harder or be out of breath.

Only one third of kids are meeting the physical activity recommendation, but others are close.Reference 2Footnote *

Average daily minutes of MVPA
  Percentage of kids
Less than 30 minutes 18%
30 to 44 minutes 23%
45 to 59 minutes 26%
60+ minutes 33%

Physical activity levels stayed fairly consistent between 2007 and 2015 for both boys and girls.Reference 2

Average daily minutes of MVPA, by Canadian Health measures Survey cycle, by sex
  Girls Boys
2007 to 2009 49 64
2009 to 2011 42 55
2011 to 2013 50 63
2013 to 2015 46 63

Physical activity decreases with age, and boys tend to be more physically active than girls.Reference 2Reference 3

Average daily minutes of MVPA, by sex and age group
  Girls Boys
5-year-olds 68 81
6-to-11-year-olds 53 68
12-to-17-year-olds 41 55

Factors that increase physical activity in kids

  • Parents' activity level
    • 60 minutes of a parent's physical activity = +15 minutes to a child's average daily physical activity.Reference 4
  • Active lessons, leagues, and team sports
    • 60 minutes of participation in organized activities = +10 minutes to a child's average daily physical activity.Reference 4
  • Time outdoors
    • 60 minutes outdoors = +7 minutes to a child's average daily physical activity.Reference 5
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