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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Exercise prescription refers to the designing and implementation of planned and structured exercise programs for different populations. The activities incorporated are goal-oriented with a focus on increasing fitness.


Before proceeding further, Fitness, physical activity and exercise must be defined.

Physical activity

  • any leisure or non-leisure activity requiring body movements resulting in an increased energy output from the resting condition ( Bouchard & Shephard, 1994 * warburtons book ch 3)
  • Therefore it is any movement that incorporates large muscle groups, expends calories, and does not have to be structured or planned


  • any physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetive with a goal on increasing or maintaining physical fitness ( Warburton, 2013 )


  • Fitness is an attained state where physical fitness is the physiological state of well-being that allows an individual to meet the demands of their daily lives ( Health-related physical fitness), or as a basis of sport performance (Skill/performance related physical fitness)
  • To fully understand fitness we must segregate it into it's main two categories:

1) Health Related Physical Fitness

  • Health-related physical fitness encompasses the aspects of fitness that are linked to health such as cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength, body composition and metabolism (Bouchard and Shephard, 1994).

2) Performance-Related Physical Fitness

  • The skill or performance-related aspects of fitness are those that are focused on sport performance.
  • These are reaction time, speed, agility, power, balance, and coordination

Health benefits of Physical Activity/ Exercise

  • Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the appropriate exercise prescriptions for the differing domains of physical health and fitness we must first understand why exercise or physical activity are important for individuals and especially developing children.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, routine physical activity can :
  • Assist with weight control and obesity
  • Reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce the risk for some cancers (colon and breast cancer)
  • Reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Strengthen muscles and bones
  • Improve mental health and mood,
  • Contribute to chances of living longer
  • Warburton et al., found that a direct linear correlation exists between the amount of physical activity and health status, indicating that a dose-respone relationship exists where a further increase in physical activity and fitness contributes to further improvements in health status (Warburton et al. 2006)
  • Regular physical activity was also found to be a primary and secondary preventer of chronic disease, notably cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity (Warburton et al. 2006)

Components of an Exercise Prescription

The F.I.T.T Principle

1) Frequency

  • Outlines how often an activity occurs, usually in days per week (Oberg 2007)

2) Intensity

  • Refers to the level of exertion that an individual experiences when performing the activity (Oberg, 2007)
  • There are many measures of intensity which vary upon the type of exercise:
  • i. A definitive Target Heart Rate scale using percentages of heart rate for differing intensities can also be used for aerobic exercise.
  • ii. For aerobic exercise, percent of VO2 Max can be used.iii. METs or Metabolic equivalents can also be used for aerobic exercise intensity. One MET is defined as the amount of oxygen that our body consumes while sitting at rest and is equal to 3.5 ml/kg/min. METs express the intensity of an activity as a multiple of resting metabolic rate. (Jette, Sidney, & Blumchen, 1990)
  • iv. Monitored using a subjective Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 10-point scale where 1 is an activity such as sitting and 10 is a maximal effort( Oberg, 2007
  • v. For resistance training a percentage of 1 Rep max ( 1-RM, the maximum weight lifted for a single repetition) can be used


  • Refers to the modality of the exercise such as aerobic, resistance training, balance training, flexibility training, power training, agility training etc (Oberg, 2007)


  • Simply refers to the total duration of the activity in minutes.

Aerobic training:

  • Aerobic training is often used interchangeably with cardiovascular training and refers to training that occurs in the presence of oxygen or where oxygen supply and demand are congruent.

Current Canadian Guidelines For Children

i. Children aged 5-11 should engage in moderate-vigorous activity daily, accumulating at least 60 minutes. Including vigorous intensity activities at least 3 days a week and activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least 3 days a week as well.

  • Moderate intensity activities are described as those that cause children to sweat a litter and breath harder; examples including playground activities or bike riding
  • Vigorous activities include those that children to sweat and result in being out of breath; examples include running or swimming (CSEP, 2014)

ii. Children aged 12-17 have the same guidelines as above iii. Adults aged 18-64 are required to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be done at least twice a week

Exercise Prescription & Programming

  • Unlike Resistance training prescription and programming which can be found below, aerobic training guidelines for children require a less structured approach
  • Ayres and Sariscsany provide appropriate resources in their book Physical Education for Lifelong Fitness, with respect to sufficient exercise prescription and programming for children:
  • 1) First of all, The FITT principle was outlined above as it is often present in most clinical prescriptions in some way shape or form as a practical method for illustrating frequency, workload, volume, and duration; however, for children the FITT principle is not the most appropriate or adequate method for prescription (Ayres & Sariscsany, 2010).
  • 2) Secondly, although fitness testing is used in schools, the emphasis should not be on attaining high aerobic test scores but rather on facilitating participation through fun and interactive methods (Ayres & Sariscsany, 2010)

Resistance Training

  • Resistance Training refers to exercise that results in muscle contraction against an external load or resistance with a focus on increasing strength, tone, muscular size or endurance (Emedicine Health, 2015).


Resistance training was not recommended for children for two main reasons:

  • First of all, it was postulated that the developing and physiologically immature skeleton of children and adolescents was more prone to injury and because it was believed to stunt growth.
  • Secondly, it was believed that resistance training was not effective in children ( Faulk & Tenenbaum, 1996)
  • A meta-analysis of many studies has shown that none of the resistance training programs reported any skeletal fracture due to the appropriate supervision of trained staff and that skeletal injures can be prevented with proper technique, supervision, and the inclusion of a progressive training program (Faulk & Tenenbaum, 1996). The second myth was also refuted because the majority of the studies demonstrated an increase in strength of 13-30% for boys and girls under the age of 12 and 13 years, respectively (Faulk & Tenenbaum, 1996).

Resistance Training Prescription and Programming

In terms of resistance training guidelines, prescription and programming, eight different professional organizations collaborated to form the guidelines below. Among these organizations were the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the Society of Pediatric Orthopedics (Kathol, 2014).

Age Considerations
• 7 or younger • Introduce basic exercises with little or no weight: teach exercise techniques.
  • Develop the concept of a training session.
  • Progress from body weight calisthenics, partner exercises, and lightly resisted exercise.
  • Keep volume low.
8-10 * Gradually increase the number of exercises and training volume.
  • Practice exercise technique in all lifts: keep exercises simple.
  • Start gradual, progressive loading of exercises, carefully monitoring toleration to the exercise stress
11-13 * Teach all basic exercises and training volume.
  • Continue progressive loading of each exercise.
  • Introduce more advanced exercises with little or no resistance
14-15 * Progress to more advanced youth programs in resistance exercise.
  • Add sport-specific components.
  • Emphasize exercise techniques.
  • Increase volume
16 or older * Move child to entry-level adult programs after all background knowledge has been mastered and a basic level of training experience has been gained.

Adapted directly from Kathol, 2015

Practical Applications

Implications for Movement Experiences

All of the above information pertains to the optimal growth and development of children. For example, Self- determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1991) states that individuals have three basic needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness. Developing children feel motivation and ownership of their future when they experience competence ( in the form of the ability to achieve tasks), control over their actions and abilities, and knowledge that the activities they are doing are relevant towards their futures. An important aspect of success towards any endeavor we partake in is goal-setting. This is where SMART goal setting principles are incorporated. SMART goals are strategic, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound (O’Neill, 2000). Using exercise prescription principles as outlined above as guidelines for exercise selection and programming, we increase the chances of successfully meeting the physical activity guidelines for health. For older students, the transtheoretical model of behavior change or the Stages of Change (SOC) model can be used (Ayres and Sariscany, 2010). In the stages of change model we have 5 stages :

Stage Behavior
  • Resistant to change
  • Does not feel change is needed
  • Not thinking about making a change
  • Thinks about changing within six months
  • May gather information about benefits or drawbacks to change (pros and cons)
  • Has achieved the desired change
  • Believes the benefits of change to outweigh barriers
  • Has a plan of action and SPECIFIC goals
  • Finds confidence increasing
  • Is committed to acquiring the new behavior
  • Has maintained the behavior for 6 months or longer
  • Has increased confidence in new behavior
  • Finds temptations to relapse less enticing

Adapted from Ayres and Sariscany, 2010.

Considering the stages of this model, individuals can be accommodated through the various stages and health behaviors can be reinforced or introduced.

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model

The Long Term Athlete Development Model is incorporated into Canada's Sport for Life strategy. The LTAD model operates on the basis of scientific research which all states that active kids develop into active adults and in order for an individual to stay and maintain activity, they must engage in the appropriate behaviours at the appropriate time periods in life (Canadian Sport for Life, 2015). There are 7 stages in the LTAD model but for the purpose of childhood. The first three stages focus on the development of movement competency and physical literacy; stages 4, 5, and 6 focus on providing elite training for specialization in sport; stage 7 focuses on maintaining the activity level into adulthood (CS4L, 2015).

The implications of exercise prescription and programming are seen within the LTAD model. Each stage incorporates varying elements of prescribed activities and outcomes, with the ultimate focus on development. In this way, we can see the important of prescription and programming for all age groups. For example, consider the first three stages:

Active Start (0-6 years)

  • Fun and part of daily life
  • Fitness and movement skills development
  • Focusing on learning proper movement skills such as running, jumping, wheeling, twisting, kicking, throwing, and catching
  • Not sedentary for more than 60 mins except when sleeping
  • Some organized physical activity (SPORT); daily physical activity
  • Exploration of risk and limits in safe environments
  • Active movement environment combined with well structured gymnastics and swimming programs

FUNdamentals Stage ( Males 6-9, Females 6-8)

  • Overall movement skills
  • Fun and participation
  • General, overall development
  • Integrated mental, cognitive, and emotional development
  • ABC’s of Athleticism: agility, balance, coordinations, and speed
  • ABC’s of Athletics: running, jumping, throwing, wheeling
  • Medicine Ball, Swiss ball, own body strength exercises
  • Introduce simples rules of ethics of sport
  • Screening for talent
  • No periodization, but well structured programs
  • Daily physical activity

Learning to Train Stage (Males 9-12, Females 8-11)

  • Overall sport skills development
  • Major skill learning stage : all basic sports skills should be learned before entering Training to Train stage
  • Introduction to mental preparation
  • Introduce ancillary capacities
  • Talent identification
  • Single or double periodization
  • Sport specific training 3 times a week; participation in other sports 3 times a week
  • Medicine Ball, Swiss ball, own body strength exercises
  • Integrated mental, cognitive, and emotional development

(Retrieved from Canadian Sport for Life, 2015)

It is apparent that childhood exercise prescription and programming can play a pivotal role in development and movement experiences for young children.


Ayers, S.F., & Sariscsany, M.J. (Eds.). (2010). Physical education for lifelong fitness: The physical best teacher’s guide (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Barnett, A. (2011). Benefits of exercise on cognitive performance in schoolchildren. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 53(7), 580. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.03973.x

Center for Disease Control. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2015, from (

CSEP. (2014). Canadian physical activity guidelines. Retrieved from

Falk, B., Tenenbaum, G. (1996). The effectiveness of resistance training in children. Sports Medicine, 22 (3), 176-186. DOI: 10.2165/00007256-199622030-00004

Jetté, M., Sidney, K., & Blümchen, G. (1990). Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity. Clinical Cardiology, 555-565. Retrieved February 20, 2015, from;jsessionid=A21028D227F22A260CE539430F2F85D4.f04t04

Kathol, M. (2015). Strength Training for Prepubescent and Adolescent Children. Retrieved from

LTAD Stages. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2015, from

Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective Edward L. Deci , Robert J. Vallerand , Luc G. Pelletier , Richard M. Ryan 
Educational Psychologist 
Vol. 26, Iss. 3-4, 1991

Oberg, E. (2007). Physical Activity Prescription : Our Best Medicine. Integrative Medicine, 6(5), 18-22. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from

O'Neill, J. (2000). SMART goals, SMART Schools. Educational Leadership, 57(5), 46-50. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Warburton, D. (2006). Health Benefits Of Physical Activity: The Evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 801-809. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from durch bewegung!.htm