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

The World Health Organization identifies physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths worldwide. This rising epidemic can be contributed to a various set of sources. One can argue that labour-saving devices (relating to technology and mobility) and inexpensive and easy to access calorie-dense foods are a major cause to individuals becoming physically inactive. In addition, behaviours such as; excessive television watching and video game usage have been identified as key stimulus for excessive eating and sedentary behavior. There is evidence that suggests that the majority of children and adults fail to meet current physical activity guidelines. [1]


In Canada, there is strong evidence that the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is quickly rising. For instance, between the years of 1981 and 1996, the prevalence of obesity among Canadian children within 7 to 13 years of age tripled from 5% to 15%. Since the rate of change is so great within a short period of time, it is believed to be associated with environmental factors rather than genetic factors [1]

General Statistics

  • Males aged 6 to 19 average approximately an hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, while females aged 6 to 19 average approximately three-quarters of an hour. [2]
  • Males who are overweight average approximately 51 minutes a day and males who are obese average 44 minutes a day. [2]
  • The percentage of male and female children and youth who average 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least 6 days a week is estimated at 7%.[2]
  • The percentage of male children and youth who average 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least 6 days a week is estimated at 29%. [2]
  • The percentage of female children and youth who average 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least 6 days a week is estimated at 21%. [2]
  • The percentage of children and youth who average 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least 3 days a week is 83% of males and 73% of females. [2]
  • A 97% majority of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among children and youth is performed at a moderate intensity. [2]
  • Approximately 4% of children and youth accumulate 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least 3 days a week, 6% accumulate 10 minutes, 11% accumulate 5 minutes. [2]


Certain trends from the present have not been seen in past decades. The growth in low-priced and calorie-dense foods, as well as, being technologically advanced increases the likelihood of partaking in sedentary behaviour. More than 60% of overweight or obese incidences can be linked to excess television viewing.

Causes/Reasons for Physical Inactivity

The existing levels of physical inactivity in present day is due to insufficient participation in physical activities during leisure time and an increase in sedentary behaviour during occupational and domestic activities. Many individuals choose to stay indoors and participate in activities that involve technological devices rather than partaking in activities that are more physically exerting. In addition, an increase in the use of inactive modes of transportation has also been associated with the decrease in physical activity levels. Furthermore, the increase in urbanization has resulted in several environment factors that may discourage participation in physical activity. Some examples include violence, high-density traffic, low air quality (pollution), lack of parks, lack of sidewalks, lack of sports/recreation facilities, and lack of community sports teams.


There are many risks associated with individuals who are physically inactive, the following are a few threats to a person's health:


Obesity, as defined by the World Health Organization, is abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A basic population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his/her height (in metres). An individual with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered to be overweight. If an individual has a BMI of 30 or more is considered to be obese. [3] In 2013, 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. [3] Obesity was once thought to be a problem for high-income countries (ex. Canada), however, over the years obesity has become a worldwide issue. [3] The World Health Organization lists a few causes of obesity

  1. An increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat.[3]
  2. An increase in physical inactivity due to the increase in sedentary behaviours in forms of work, transportation methods, and increasing urbanization.[3]

There are major health consequences associated with obesity such as; cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and some sorts of cancer (ex. Endometrial, breast, and colon). [3]

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, as defined by the World Health Organization, is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and includes coronary heart disease (heart attacks), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and raised blood pressure (hypertension), peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, and heart failure. The four major causes of cardiovascular disease include physical inactivity, tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and harmful use of alcohol. [4]

Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death worldwide. In order to reverse the trend, the cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, consuming fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoid harmful use of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. [4]


Diabetes, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a chronic disease which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increase concentration of glucose in the blood (known as hyperglycaemia). [5] There are 2 types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production [5]
  2. Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity [5]

The type of diabetes that would be concerning for an individual who is physically inactive would be type 2. Once you are diabetic, there is no reversal and it would be a life altering condition. [5] With the intention of preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, it is best to maintain a healthy diet, participate in regular physical activity, sustain a normal body weight, and avoid using tobacco.[5]

Mental Health

Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization, falls under the category of health and is “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.” Mental health includes individuals whom are suffering from mental disorders, suicide, headaches, and mental well-being. Individuals who suffer from mental health disorders should take part in health-care decisions, refrain from tobacco use, take part in regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and go for regular health check-ups. [6]

Respiratory Function

Respiratory function can be affected when being physically inactive, the negative consequences that can occur are respiratory tract diseases. Respiratory tract diseases, as defined by the World Health Organization, are diseases that affect the air passages, including the nasal passages, the bronchi, and the lungs. They range from acute infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, to chronic conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A major respiratory noncommunicable disease that many individuals suffer from is asthma. Approximately 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma which is common among children. Another respiratory problem that many individuals can suffer from is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is noted that more than 3 million globally have died from COPD in 2005. [7]

Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity, as defined by the World Health Organization, is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Regular physical activity can benefit a person by:

  • Maintaining and increasing muscle strength, improving balance, overall co-ordination, reaction timing, and flexibility. [8]
  • Improving mental concentration. [8]
  • The prevention of muscle decay. [8]
  • Increases tolerance to stress and improves mood and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.[8]
  • Improves an individual’s overall self-esteem and self-confidence which can lead to a person positively making new friends. [8]
  • Enhances the strength of an individual’s immune system.[8]
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.[8]
  • Improves the quality of life.[8]

Classification of Activity

Moderate Intensity

Moderate aerobic intensity, as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is activity that makes you breathe harder and makes your heart beat faster. You should be able to talk, however, not be able to sing. A few examples of moderate aerobic activity include walking quickly, skating, bike riding, and skateboarding. [9]

Vigorous Intensity

Vigorous aerobic intensity, as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is activity that will increase your heart rate more and you will not be able to say more than a few words without catching a breathe. A few examples of vigorous aerobic activity include running, basketball, soccer, and cross-country skiing. [9]

Strengthening Activities

Strengthening activities, as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is activity that build up your muscles. With bone-strengthening activities, your muscles push and pull against bones which help them develop and get stronger. An example of a muscle strengthening activity is climbing and swinging on playground equipment. A few examples of bone-strengthening activities include running, walking, and jumping rope. [9]


Sedentary Behaviours

Sedentary Behaviour, as defined by the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, refers to any walking activity that has an energy expenditure equal to or less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents and is in a sitting or reclining posture. In more general terms, at any point in time an individual is sitting or lying down, they are engaged in sedentary behaviour. Some examples of sedentary behaviour include watching television, playing video games, using the computer, reading, and driving a vehicle. Sedentary behaviour has negative health benefits that can increase body weight and decrease physical activity levels. [10]

Socioeconomic Status

In recent studies, there have been indication that individuals with lower socioeconomic status are less physically active than individuals who have higher socioeconomic status. Higher socioeconomic individuals spend a significant more amount of time of leisure-time physical activity, job-related physical activity, and household physical activity. Children that are living in a higher socioeconomic status household have more opportunity to engage in physical activity than the lower socioeconomic status children. In addition, children whose parents cannot afford to put them in afterschool programs or sports teams will most likely be more sedentary. [11]

Prevention and Control Organizations to Promote Physical Activity


ParticipACTION is a non-for-profit organization responsible for promoting the health and wellbeing of all Canadians by motivating and supporting healthy and active living. ParticipACTION was originally established in 1971, and was relaunched for the second time in 2007 to try and help mend the physical inactivity crisis occurring in Canada. This organization encourages individuals to prioritize physical activity and to get moving, or to bring back play. ParticpACTION's goal is to create a world where physical activity is second nature to everyone, leading them towards a happier and healthier future. [12]

Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada is a public health sector of the government that works to prevent chronic diseases by promoting healthy behaviours in all Canadians. They promote these behaviours by informing Canadians about public health notices, immunizations and vaccines, and health promotion for all ages. The Public Health Agency of Canada provides information for all, allowing individuals to research and obtain the most up-to-date information on health and safety. Their vision is to generate a healthier world where chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and public health emergencies are preventable or non-existent. [13]

Practical Application

In order to get optical health benefits, children need to do both aerobic and strengthening activities. The outcome of aerobic activities include faster breathing, a warmer feeling and an increased heart rate. Strengthening activities build muscles and bones. For children and youth, after school is the best time to be physically active. Sign them up for active programs and try to find active ways to get home from school.

Tips to get Active

Children (5-11 years of age)

  • Try to encourage children to walk to school and get active as a family. [9]
  • Find alternate ways for children to get to a destination other than getting a ride, such as; skateboarding, riding a bike, walking * and/or running. [9]
  • If the family owns a pet, ask them to walk the pet with you. [9]
  • Have them rake the leaves, shovel snow, or carry the groceries.[9]
  • Encourage them to dance to their favourite music. [9]
  • Create fun activities for children to participate in rather than watching TV or playing on the computer. [9]
  • Encourage children to join school sport teams. [9]
  • For classroom purposes, build active opportunities into daily routines. [9]
  • Take children to the playground or to the park to play. [9]
  • Reduce the amount of time children spend on technological devices (ex. Television). [9]

Health Benefits

  • Opportunities for socializing. [9]
  • Improve fitness. [9]
  • Increased concentration. [9]
  • Better academic scores. [9]
  • Healthier heart, bones, and stronger muscles. [9]
  • Healthy growth and development. [9]
  • Improved self-esteem. [9]
  • Better posture and balance. [9]
  • Lower stress levels. [9]

Youth (12-17 years of age)

  • Instead of getting a ride; walk, run, or bike. [14]
  • Do something you enjoy such as; run, jump, swim, skateboard, snowboard, ski, skate, or toboggan. [14]
  • Participate in some active fitness classes for example, yoga, hip-hop, or aerobics classes.[14]
  • Try new activities like rock climbing, playing soccer (or any other sport), or ride a bike. [14]
  • Take the dog for a walk (if your family owns a pets). [14]
  • Dance to your favourite music. [14]
  • Rake the leaves, shovel the snow, and carry the groceries home. [14]
  • Join a team or club at school. [14]
  • Choose activities that you enjoy or be creative and try something new. [14]
  • Set physical activity goals with your friends and family. [14]
  • Set weekly physical activity goals. [14]
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend on technological devices (ex. PlayStation). [14]

Health Benefits

  • .Be able to meet new people and make friends. [14]
  • Do better at school. [14]
  • Increase your concentration. [14]
  • Improve your self-esteem. [14]
  • Build stronger bones and muscles. [14]
  • Improve your mental health. [14]
  • Improve your fitness. [14]
  • Improve your posture and balance. [14]
  • Reduce your stress. [14]
  • Have a strong heart. [14]
  • Helps with healthy growth and development. [14]

Key Note

Engage in a healthy diet and increase your physical inactivity to promote a balanced lifestyle.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Physical Inactivity: A Global Public Health Problem (2014). World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Canadian Health Measures Survey: Physical activity of youth and adults, 2007 to 2009 (2011). Available at: (Accessed: 18 February 2015).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Obesity (2015). World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cardiovascular Disease (2015). World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Diabetes (n.d.). World Health Organization. Available at (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  6. Mental Health (n.d.). World Health Organization. Available at (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  7. Respiratory tract diseases (n.d.). World Health Organization. Available at (Accessed: 21 February 2015).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Health & Wellness Centre - Physical activity - The benefits of physical activity (no date) Standard Life. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2015).
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 9.16 9.17 9.18 9.19 9.20 9.21 Canada, G. of, Public Health Agency of Canada (no date a) Physical Activity Tips for Children (5-11 years) - Physical Activity - Healthy Living - Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2015).
  10. What is Sedentary Behaviour? (no date) SBRN. SBRN. Available at: (Accessed: 19 February 2015).
  11. Ford, E., Merritt, R., Heath, G., Powell, K., Washburn, R., Kriska, A. and Haile, G. (1990) ‘Physical Activity Behaviors in Lower and Higher Socioeconomic Status Populations’, American Journal of Epidemiology, 133.
  12. ParticipACTION. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from
  13. Public Health Agency of Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 14.17 14.18 14.19 14.20 14.21 14.22 Canada, G. of, Public Health Agency of Canada (no date c) Physical Activity Tips for Youth (12-17 years) - Physical Activity - Healthy Living - Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada. Available at: (Accessed: 19 February 2015).