Canada is the first country in the world to have guidelines about limiting the time children and teens spend being inactive (sedentary) each day. The guidelines recommend limits to:
Sedentary behaviours for children include:
The Canadian 24- Hour Movement Guidelines also show how important it is for children to move often, every day.
Research shows that there’s a direct link between having more sedentary time and:
In Canada, children and teens spend almost 2 out of every 3 hours they're awake being sedentary. The average amount of screen time school-age children have in a day is 6 to 8 hours.
Having less sedentary time has many health benefits. Children who are active often learn better. An example of this is that if children go for a 10-minute walk before a test, they may be more relaxed when taking the test.
Yes. Research shows that being more active has health benefits, even if people already do moderate or vigorous activity every day. Standing and moving around more often during the day can burn a few hundred more calories in a day. However, just being less sedentary is only one part of being healthy. It's important to spend less time being sedentary and more time being active. These habits will set children up to be healthier and happier.
Keeping children active with less sedentary time can be a challenge. It's a shared responsibility between parents, schools, and communities. For example, if schools keep children active for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, the other 30 minutes could be done at home or in the community.
Here are some ideas to help schools decrease sedentary time:
There are many light-intensity activities that can replace sedentary time. Here are a few:
The more active and less sedentary you are, the better it is for your health. Teach your children about the benefits of being active and lead by example.
Even if you're active you may not be as healthy as you could be if you're mostly sedentary. If you're only active for an hour a day and sedentary for the rest of the time, you don't get all the health benefits from being active. It's important to be more active and have less sedentary time.
A good first step is to know that you need to be less sedentary. There are many ways to remind yourself to be more active during the day such as using the screen saver on your computer or an app on your phone.
Try these ideas to be less sedentary:
Teach children and teens to limit sedentary time. Teach them the health benefits of less sedentary time and being more active. To keep yourself motivated and to see your progress it's a good idea to keep track of how much time you spend being active and on sedentary activities.
Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthy Children and Families, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.