Staggering and concrete evidence helping to explain the increase of obesity and associated diseases within the Canadian population was recently published within a Statistics Canada report. Entitled Physical activity of Canadian children and youth: Accelerometer results from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey, the report found that of the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week required by adults for good health (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology), only 15 percent of individuals were meeting these recommendations. For children, the figure was even worse; only 7% were achieving the recommended amount for proper growth and development.
Coincidentally, just a few weeks after this Stats Can report, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) released the updated Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines which offer specific recommendations about the amount of time and intensity to be spent participating in daily physical activity. Also offered are suggestions for how Canadians can incorporate these guidelines into their day. The guidelines were developed with the hope of promoting healthy active living within the population and this updated version could not have come at a better time.
Both recent publications are of relevance to Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) as they address key points within the mandate of the program. By actively traveling to and from school, children are able to build on the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity, as recommended by CSEP. Taglines used by CSEP such as “60 minutes a day…You can help your child get there!” offer a reaffirming message that parental involvement is crucial for increasing the activity levels of our children. Encouraging your child to walk, bike or roller blade to school not only offers important health gains to them (and yourself too, if you join in), but other additional benefits of active travel as well, including safer neighborhoods, less traffic at intersections and reduced vehicle emissions.
When it comes to the most recent news about low activity levels among Canadian children and what the next steps are to address this serious matter, ASRTS is truly an ideal “step” in the right direction.