New Guidelines Stress More Exercise, Less Screen Time for Young Children
New guidelines developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and the fitness promotion group ParticipAction has set a new minimum for the amount of exercise that children, toddlers, and even babies should get per day.
CSEP, which consists of obesity specialists at Ottawa’s Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, recently released 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for young children in order to reintroduce the idea of physical exercise back into the daily regimen.
“Qualified exercise professionals, health care providers, and caregivers all have an important role in helping young children to move, sleep, sit the right amounts each day,” says Dr. Panagiota Nota Klentrou, chair of the CSEP board of directors.
“The research is clear that following the guidelines is associated with healthy growth and development of young children.”
The new guidelines show the importance between physical exercise, sitting, and sleep, and how these three factors all affect the development of a child from as early as birth.
This is the first set of guidelines to appropriately address the entire day, for 24 hours, and is backed up by its own evidence, says CSEP.
The guidelines are aimed at children ranging in age from 0-17, and those in each of the age ranges should be getting the appropriate activity time and cutting back on screen time.
Adequate exercise for those aged 0-4 should consist of “moving,” “sitting,” and “sleeping,” the guidelines say. For babies who aren’t yet mobile, at least 30 minutes of “tummy time” is recommended.
For kids ages 1-4, at least 180 minutes of physical activity is encouraged. For kids aged between 3 and 4, 60 of those minutes are to be used for energetic play. The more energetic the play time that these children receive, the better, the guidelines say.
The guidelines come at a time when screens dominate and technology surrounds toddlers, kids, and adults. Studies show that too much screen time before the age of 5 could be connected to delays in language development and short attention spans, as well as reducing readiness for school and executive function, says ParticipAction.
The group notes there needs to be a balance between activity time and screen time, something that can be tough to do given the rise of smartphones, tablets, and 24/7 technology.
“The overarching recommendation is that less is better. Kids learn language and take in more information when interacting with real people. Stories, crafts, and puzzles are more educational than screens,” ParticipAction writes on its website.
According to a study by BMC Medicine, only 24 percent of children between the ages 2 and 4 get less than the recommended one hour of screen time. Another BMC study found that only 15 percent of toddlers aged 1-2 in Edmonton get less than the one hour of recommended screen time.
“Canadian kids aged four and under are spending too much time in front of screens,” ParticipAction says.