24 – Hour Movement Guidelines to Optimize Your Child’s Health

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The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) came out with the new Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (5 to 17 years old).

According to this guideline, “for optimal health benefits, children and youth (aged 5–17 years) should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day.”  http://www.csep.ca/view.asp?x=696

Your child’s 24 hours should include:

  • 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years.  Routine of when to wake up and when to go to bed is encouraged.
  • Several hours of structured and unstructured activities
  • At least 1 hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time
  • Not sitting for extended periods of time

So how do we incorporate all of this into our children’s day when they sitting at school all day long; riding on a school bus to get to and from school; attending extracurricular activities during the week which might mean spending more time in the car sitting to get to and from these activities; homework and going to bed late and getting up early.

I’ve come up with 16 suggestions on how to optimize children’s health by sweating, stepping, sleeping and sitting in their day:

  1. Wake up at the same time to start their routine
  2. Eat a healthy and well balanced breakfast to nourish their body for the day
  3. Complete some full body stretches and breathing techniques to decrease anxiety before they go to school
  4. Walk, run or bike to school so they can get some physical activity and fresh air before school
  5. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask how they get daily physical activity in their day at school.  If they don’t get a lot, offer suggestions and be an advocate on the importance of children being physically active in schools versus sitting at a desk all day.
  6. Encourage your children to play at recess so they can get their heart rates up and move their bodies.
  7. If your child takes the bus to school, make an activity box so when they get home, they must complete the activity to get their muscles moving. Example: jumping jacks, dancing to their favourite song, or yoga poses.
  8. Register your children in 1 or 2 extracurricular activities, either at school or in the community.  Try to incorporate at least 1 activity that is physically active.
  9. Be role models.  Go for walks, bike rides, play soccer, run around the park with your children.  If they see you doing something active and fun, they will join in on the fun.
  10. Cook a healthy dinner together as a family if you can.  Teach your children where food comes from and what makes them healthy.  Cooking together creates an open communication with your children and you learn about their day in more of an informal way.
  11. Let your child be bored and let them have unstructured play.  Watch to see what they build out of lego or the imaginative stories they act out with their siblings or friends.
  12. Try doing homework standing or sitting on a exercise stability ball.
  13. Limit your TV to 1 show before or after dinner.
  14. Shut off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed
  15. Start your night time routine.  Shower, books, relaxation breathing. Bed.
  16. Take some child with your child to reflect on their day. Did you get enough physical activity in? Limit screen time? Are they going to bed on time? Are they eating healthy?

If children have the right balance of sleep, physical activity and sedentary behaviour, I believe they will do better in school and in their daily life.  They will have a healthier body weight. Their self – esteem and self – worth will be higher.  They might even be less anxious.

The 24 – hour Movement Guideline talks about activity, sleep and sedentary behaviour.  The one other element to add to the equation is providing your children with healthy food so they can get the vitamins and minerals they need for their bodies to grow and develop.

So there you have it. 16 ways to keep your children active and healthy in their day.  Be a positive role model in your child’s life. Be active. Have fun.

xo Rachelle



Momentum Health & Wellness




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