May 20, 2014 2:14 pm
Updated: May 21, 2014 9:02 am

Why Canada got a D- on youth exercise report

Watch above: A new comparison of kids in 15 countries puts Canada near the bottom when it comes to physical activity. Christina Stevens explains.

How active are Canada’s youngsters in comparison to their peers around the world? A new report is warning that our youth aren’t faring well when it comes to exercise.

Canada’s kids are sitting more and moving less: they’re spending too much time in front of the television, the majority aren’t in organized sports and even more don’t walk to school anymore.

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Global News

Global News looks at five distinct factors stemming from Canada’s D- report card in the 10th annual Active Healthy Kids study.

Read the full report here.

(Canada was in the back of the pack with its international counterparts, Australia, Ireland and the United States. Scotland received an F.)

READ MORE: Scientists studying good grades, exercise link across Canada

No more daily walks to school: When it comes to transportation, Canada’s kids got a D. Only 24 per cent of Canadian parents said their kids, between five and 17 years old – walk or bike to class. A whopping 62 per cent said their kids are always driven. Compared to their kids, 58 per cent of parents said that when they were young, they “always” walked to school.

Too much time in front of the screen: TV time has been in the spotlight lately and for good reason – 61 per cent of parents concede that their kids are spending too much time watching TV or playing on their computers. Kids as young as three years old spend 5.8 hours a day being sedentary while five to 11 year olds spend about 9.3 hours parked in front of a screen. Parents say only 34 per cent of kids play sports at least four times a week and only 14 per cent of kids take part in sports once a week.

READ MORE: Lebron James, Peyton Manning food endorsements ‘sending mixed messages’ to kids

They’re not meeting the guidelines: While kindergarteners around three-to-four years old were meeting the 180 minutes of daily physical activity, the older kids got, the more sedentary they became. By the five-to-11-year-old age group, only seven per cent of kids were getting the recommended hour of exercise. Twelve to 17 year olds were worse off – only four per cent got their daily 60 minutes. Moderate exercise included walking quickly, skating and bike riding. Running and playing sports fell under vigorous exercise.

We have the goods, though: When it comes to outdoor spaces, parks and access to gyms, Canadian kids have an abundance of choices. In this category, Canada garnered a C+. For starters, 95 per cent of schools say they have gymnasiums, playing fields and playgrounds for kids during recess. Just over half (55 per cent) of schools say they have a policy for daily physical education, too.

READ MORE: Preschoolers’ eating habits linked to future heart health risks, Canadian study suggests

They’re not getting the support: If families are trying to spend time together, it typically isn’t while working out. While 79 per cent of families cough up money to pay for their kids’ sports teams or equipment, only 37 per cent of parents say they “often” played active games with their kids. (The report notes that kids with more active parents participate in sports and play outside than kids with sedentary parents.) The report handed family and peers a C for their weak efforts. The government, on the other hand, garnered a C as well. Non-government organizations won an A- for their work in developing strategies and allocating funds to help boost physical activity in kids and teens.

- With files from the Canadian Press

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

© Shaw Media, 2014

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