More Kids Need to Move More Often to Boost Brain Health

BC’s Physical Activity and Health Collaborative supports

findings in the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card on

Physical Activity for Children and Youth that links brain health

with regular physical activity

Only 35 per cent of 5- to 17-year-olds and 62 per cent of 3- to 4-year-olds are getting the recommended physical activity levels for their age group, the report card found, and this may be having an impact on the health of their brains – kids may be less attentive, moody and not meeting their full potential both in and out of the classroom.

“While a ‘D’ mark in physical activity is a disappointment, many groups involved with the provincial Physical Activity Strategy are working hard to raise this grade by supporting more kids to be more active, more often” said Rita Koutsodimos, Executive Director of the BC Alliance for Healthy Living. This includes:

  • Appetite to Play – led by Child Health BC, provides resources and training so that early childhood educators can get babies, toddlers and preschoolers off to a healthy start with fundamental movement skills and fun activities;
  • MindFit led by the YMCA, delivers physical and mental wellness programming to teens experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression and/or anxiety;
  • Active Communities – led by BC Healthy Communities and BC’s Health Authorities supports 52 community projects across BC to create diverse activity opportunities including: walking events, family playgroups and playspaces, youth sports programming, trail and active transportation plans and physical literacy training; and
  • Before and After School Recreation Program grants, offered through BC Recreation and Parks Association increase recreation programs for children that focus on physical activity, connecting to nature, outdoor play, and engaging in culture, sports and the arts.

The Physical Activity and Health Collaborative, which brings together leaders from sport, recreation and health sectors, are also developing a toolkit that will support organizations to make physical activity more inclusive and accessible.

“We are working across sectors to provide more kids across BC with opportunities to reap the physical, social and emotional health benefits of organized and recreational sport” said Sheila Bouman, CEO of viaSport and co-chair of the Collaborative.  “It’s critical that all children can develop a foundation to be active and healthy for life.”

This year’s Report Card was released in concert for the first time with an evidence-informed Expert Statement on Physical Activity and Brain Health in Children and Youth. The Expert Statement was developed by a team of pediatric neuroscientists, exercise scientists, clinicians and practitioners. It finds that for better brain health – including cognition, brain function and mental health – all children and youth should be physically active on a regular basis.

The lowest grades in this year’s Report Card are a D+ for Overall Physical Activity, D for Sedentary Behaviours and F for the 24-Hour Movement Behaviours. Despite common knowledge of the health benefits of kids moving more, turning away from screens, getting off the couch and breaking a sweat, most of them aren’t, but now they have another pressing reason to do so – for their brain health.

Other grades assigned in the Report Card include:

  • “D” for Active Play & Leisure Activities
  • “D-” for Active Transportation
  • “B” for Organized Sport Participation
  • “C-” for Physical Education
  • “B+” for Sleep
  • “D+” for Physical Literacy
  • “D” for Physical Fitness
  • “C+” for Family & Peers
  • “B-” for School
  • “B+” for Community & Environment
  • “C+” for Government

Recommendations on how to increase opportunities for physical activity and improve kids’ brain health, including those with cognitive and developmental disabilities, can be found within the Expert Statement.

To download the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Expert Statement, or Full Report, please visit www.participACTION.com/reportcard. To learn more about the Physical Activity and Health Collaborative or BC’s Physical Activity Strategy visit www.bchealthyliving.ca.

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Rita Koutsodimos
Executive Director
BC Alliance for Healthy Living
604-629-1630 / 604-989-4546
rkoutsodimos@bchealthliving.ca

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