Is Your Preschooler Go Go Going Enough?

It may seem like they never stop, but new guidelines say less sitting, more moving is needed for kids aged one to four. Who knew?  

Recently I spent 10 days with two of my favourite guys in the world: Brody and Nash. Brody’s two, Nash is one and these boys have energy to burn! We played on the beach. We played in pools – including one with a pirate ship and three huge buckets full of water just waiting to spill on us. We scampered after birds and kites and more birds and chased after the tide until we got our toes wet. We walked up stairs, we walked down stairs. (There was crawling involved too.) We played hide-and-seek and bury-a-toddler-up-to-the-neck-in-sand.

They ran laughing (Nash chortles) down a variety of corridors and I chased them. So did their nana, Cheryl, their mom, Justine, and their dad, Craig. It was go, go, go, play, play, play – and fun, fun, fun! But enoughYesterday, March 27, Canada’s first-ever physical activity guidelines for the early years were released, recommending wee ones aged four and under move more and sit less every day.  

Kiddies aged one to four should accumulate at least three hours – that’s 180 minutes – of physical activity through the day, while parents and caregivers should limit both their screen time and prolonged sitting (for more than an hour at a time). Currently, the guidelines suggest, preschoolers spend 73 to 84 per cent of their waking hours sedentary.

I can just hear some of the young mothers I know: “They’re got to be kidding…”

Still, these numbers weren’t pulled from a hat. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and ParticipACTION produced the guidelines, with support from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO).  

“Regular physical activity is essential at a young age as it contributes to bone and skeletal health, motor skill development, psychosocial health, cognitive development and healthy body weights,” says CHEO–HALO director Dr. Mark Tremblay. 

For healthy growth and development, the guidelines recommend:

• Children under the age of one should be physically active several times daily – particularly through interactive, floor-

based play. This should include supervised indoor and outdoor experiences such as tummy time, reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling.

• Children aged one to four should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day. This should include a variety of activities in different environments where children can develop movement skills, such as climbing stairs, playing outside and exploring the environment, brisk walking, running or dancing.

• By age five, children should progress towards at least 60 minutes of energetic play, such as hopping, skipping and bike riding.

I know, I know, it seems like a no-brainer. I’ve often thought the biggest challenge was to corral them, keep them safe and slow them down long enough for naptime. Maybe that’s not the case at all. Perhaps there’s too much time in front of the tube or in a car seat or a high chair. 

It’s a fact childhood obesity and physical inactivity have been identified as serious health issues. And it’s certainly true habits for a lifetime are formed in early childhood. We grown-ups.. ahem.. are the role models. So maybe, just maybe, more action time and less idle time might be good for everybody.

What do you think? Let talk about it.

 Pam Dillon

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