A benchmark study conducted by researchers at the Health, Leisure and Human Performance Research Institute at the University of Manitoba has found that as few as 10 per cent of children and teens in this province get the amount of physical activity recommended. Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 60 minutes of moderate activity per day and 30 minutes of vigorous activity per day.
“We expected that reported rates of physical activity for children and teens would be low, but even we were surprised and troubled by the results,” says Dr. Philip Gardiner, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Health Studies and study lead. “Even when you use the most flexible guideline, half of Manitoba’s children and teens still are not active enough for their health.”
The study, done in partnership with Manitoba in motion and Winnipeg in motion also found that close to 94 per cent of parents surveyed said they think their child “exercises regularly,” but data conflicts with this perception.
“The research conducted by the Health, Leisure and Human Performance Research Institute at the University of Manitoba shines a sober light on the future of Manitoba’s young people,” says Dr. EmÅ‘ke J. E. Szathmáry, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba. “The risk of chronic disease due to childhood inactivity needs to be addressed, and now.”
Future implications of childhood and teen inactivity are concerning. Heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer are all linked to obesity and inactivity, and obesity in children is on the rise.
The part of the study dealing with Manitoba’s adults shows 30 per cent are not getting even the most basic amount required for health, and less than 20 per cent participate in any kind of vigorous physical activity.
The study is unique because it incorporates all types of physical activity. Of the 6,500 adults and 1,618 children and teens sampled, participants were asked about their level of participation not just in sports or exercise, but in day-to-day activities such as chores and going places.
“This survey should serve as a wakeup call about the need to get physically active,” said Dr. Brian Postl, president and chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “We’re seeing many serious health conditions that physical activity can help prevent. We need to put activity back into our day-to-day lives, and ensure there are abundant opportunities for all citizens, especially children, to be more active. Initiatives such as in motion are helping to pave the way.”
A summary of the study was given by University of Manitoba researchers, with special announcements by Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and comments from Dr. Brian Postl, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority president and CEO.