ParticipACTION released their 2015 report card on Tuesday, giving Canadian children a D- for overall physical activity.
Chief Scientific Officer with ParticipACTION, Dr. Mark Tremblay says this low grade may come from overprotective parents restricting their children’s time outside.
“In outdoor play, risk doesn’t mean courting danger, but rather giving kids the freedom to assess their surroundings and make decisions…which will set them up to be more resilient and less likely to develop chronic diseases in the long run.”
The report card found that safety concerns from parents like strangers, bullies and traffic are the biggest barrier to independent free play. It also found that children think playgrounds which are designed to be “safer” are actually boring.
ParticipACTION President Elio Antunes says risky play does not necessary mean danger, but is about thrilling and exciting experiences.
“In order to help ensure Canadian children get enough heart-pumping activity, we need to recognize that they are competent and capable to go out and explore on their own or with friends…Children move more, sit less and play longer in self-directed outdoor play, so the biggest risk is keeping our kids supervised indoors.”
Other findings of the report card are:
- Only 9% of 5-17 year olds get 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity every day
- Grade 5 and 6 students who can play outside unsupervised get 20% more physical activity than those who are supervised
- Students take 35% more steps in physical education class when it is held outdoors
- Hyper parenting limits physical activity and can lead to increased anxiety in children