Remember “Body Break”? Many of us remember Hal Johnson and Joanne MacLeod from their commercials or their DVD workout series. But what many of us don’t know is that “Body Break” was funded in part of Canada’s ParticipACTION program. In the early 1970s, ParticipACTION caught the attention of many households with their famous commercial which caused Canadians across the nation to get excited about exercising.

Over the next several years, the ParticipACTION program encouraged Canadians of all ages to pursue a more active lifestyle. In addition, ParticipACTION releases an annual report card on physical activity of Canadian children and youth. The report card explains results of peer reviewed research articles that shed light on how physically fit children are. In 2016, the report was the world’s first ever to assign a grade for sleep. The report careful analyzed the physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep children get. Children are graded in 12 categories. In Canada we score a D- as seen in the image below. Slovenia was ranked one of the highest in the world scoring an A-. Slovenia relies on different approaches to get kids to move more, but what is consistent between them and physical activity is driven by cultural norms. In Slovenia, 86% of boys and 76% of girls get the recommended 60 minutes of heart pumping physical activity daily compared to Canada whose children only get 9% (ParticipACTION, 2016). Other countries that ranked along side Canada included the U.S and England who also scored a D-.

The major struggle identified in the report was classified as a “sleepidemic” (ParticipAction, 2016). Children sleep duration has decreased by 30 – 60 minutes less than previous decades (Keyes KM, 1991-2012). Not only are they sleeping less, but because they are not spending enough time being physical active during the day, the quality of sleep is greatly diminished as well. The study reports 31% of school aged children and 26% of adolescents in Canada are sleep-deprived (Chaput JP, 2016). The solution to this increasing problem is the use of the new 24-hour Movement Guidelines which explains how much time our children should sweat, step, sleep and sit everyday.

In October 2017, the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) announced the world’s first ever, evidence based 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (5 – 7 years) for whole day. Based on the report card as shown above, kids are inactive and may be losing sleep over it. They are not moving enough to be tired, and they also may be too tired to move.

For optimal health children and youth need to sweat, step, sleep and sit the right amounts. As stated previously, only 9% of children are get enough heart-pumping physical activity and only 24% are meeting screen time guidelines of no more than two hours per day (ParticipAction, 2016). In recent decades, children’s nightly sleep duration has decreased by 30 minutes to an hour (Mark S. Tremblay, 2016). Children and youth (5 – 17 years) should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour and sufficient sleep each day. The following are guidelines from CSEP:

The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines are intended as a resource to help parents and caregivers ensure children are getting a healthy balance of physical activity, sleep and sedentary behaviour in their daily lives. The guidelines are not intended to cause stress or make parents feel guilty if they cannot follow the recommendations every day. There may be road trips a few times a year causing little ones to sit in car seats for long periods of time and disrupting sleep patterns. Getting back into routine of keeping consistent bed and wake up times as soon as possible is important to support their healthy growth and development of young children. If you are travelling for extended lengths of time make sure you walk around for 15 minutes during your rest stops. Have children move when they can. Make sure your children’s bedrooms are conducive to sleep. Their sleep environment is important; rooms should be dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Reserve the bedroom for sleep only. Shut off screens 30 minutes before bedtime. Stay tuned for a future blog on benefits of sleeping.

We all know we should be more active, but life tends to get in the way. A more active life is a better life. The link between physical activity and better health, both physical and mental have been proven in study after study. Here, at MPC we help youth and adults move more. Making sitting less and moving more a priority. Because every set of stairs you take, every finish line you cross, every grocery bag you choose to carry is a choice worth making. Your better life depends on it. Your children’s life depends on it. And it’s never too late to get started.

Author: Megan Cook


Works Cited

Chaput JP, J. I. (2016). Sleep duration estimates of Canadian children and adolescents. Sleep Research , 541-548.

CSEP. (2018, March 12). 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. Retrieved from Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology :

Keyes KM, M. J. (1991-2012). The Great Sleep Recession; changes in sleep duration among US adolescents. Pediatrics, 460-468.

Mark S. Tremblay, V. C.-P. (2016). Introduction to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth: An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41-48.

ParticipAction. (2016). Are Canadian kids too tired to move? The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: ParticipAction.

ParticipACTION. (2016, November 16). Physical activity is a way of life in countries where kids move the most. Retrieved from ParticipACTION: