Exercising the heart makes it stronger. It’s a lesson we all know in adulthood, and it begins with good habits that are ingrained within us over time. If we want to make the general population more heart healthy, it’s important to start the lesson early.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), a voluntary organization that focuses on the scientific study of exercise physiology and biochemistry, fitness, and health, came up with a new plan to get our young people moving. The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, aimed at those 5 to 17 years in age, is the first evidence-based set of guidelines to address the whole day of a person’s activity, including rest and sleep.1
The rationale behind taking into consideration a whole day of active and passive activity is that the body is always active. It’s about more than concentrated physical workouts—all physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep are necessary in a fine balance for overall well-being.
The categories of movement are broken down into “Sweat, Step, Sleep, and Sit,” and the guidelines encourage youth to achieve high levels of “sweat,” low levels of “sit,” and the right amount of sleep each day depending on their age group1:
SWEAT: When it comes to sweating, the CSEP recommends a total of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity throughout the day, including some aerobic activity. Strengthening activities should be part of that “sweat time” at least three days out of the week.
STEP: “Step” activities can come in many forms of structured and unstructured physical activities, as long as they are light intensity. One clear example would be walking. Several hours of light movement are needed throughout the day.
SLEEP: Of all the activities, this is the one that should take up most of your time. For those aged 5 to 13, nine to 11 hours of sleep per night are needed. For those a little older in the 14 to 17 year age category, eight to 10 hours of sleep per night are recommended. Along with this schedule, it is recommended that bedtimes and wake-up times stay consistent.
SIT: One of the next-most recommended pieces of advice is to avoid being sedentary. In the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, it’s built into the plan: no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time, and limited sitting for extended periods.
Following these guidelines can have a significant, positive impact on the body, improving “body composition, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness, academic achievement and cognition, emotional regulation, prosocial behaviours, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and overall quality of life.”2 (For more information on musculoskeletal fitness, you can ask your chiropractor.)
These guidelines promote building extra movement into your day without being overwhelmed by one specific category. By promoting regular activity and sleep schedules, it’s a practical beneficial framework for youth (and adults) to apply to their daily lives.
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. CSEP announces new Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth: the world’s first evidence-based guidelines to address the whole day. 2016. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/en/guidelines/24-hour-movement-guidelines. Accessed December 5, 2016.
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth: an integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/24hrGlines/Canadian24HourMovementGuidelines2016.pdf. Accessed December 5, 2016.