Marks improve when kids are active

    Active Healthy Kids Canada Releases 2009 Report Card on Physical Activity
    for Children and Youth

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - If you're looking to have your kids excel in
school, you may want to cut down on extra homework and spend some time at a
park or playground with them.
    According to the 2009 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical
Activity for Children and Youth, children who are physically active perform
better in school than those who are not. Interestingly, academic performance
improves even when academic learning time is reduced to allow time for
physical activity. The Report Card was released today by Active Healthy Kids
Canada and its strategic partners, ParticipACTION and the Children's Hospital
of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute - Healthy Active Living and
Obesity Research Group (HALO).
    "Schools and parents who replace children's physical activity time with
academic study to improve their academic performance should think again," says
Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada, and
director at CHEO-HALO. "Time spent getting active in school, on the playground
or in a park can improve learning in the classroom."
    The Report Card notes that by improving memory, concentration and
attention span, physical activity positively impacts children's achievement in
math, reading, grades, perceptual skill and overall academic readiness.
Physical activity has also been shown to increase a child's self-confidence,
self-esteem, self-image and connection to school.
    Ontario children who participated in a comprehensive school health
initiative that included physical activity as a key element showed a 36 per
cent increase in reading and a 24 per cent increase in math scores over a
two-year period.(1) Similar findings are mirrored in various international,
national and regional studies.
    Disturbingly, despite the academic and health benefits of physical
activity, for the third consecutive year, the 2009 Report Card assigned an F
for Physical Activity Levels. Only 13 per cent of Canadian children and youth
are meeting the minimum recommendation of 90 minutes of physical activity a
    "The health benefits of physical activity are understood," says Michelle
Brownrigg, Chief Executive Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada (Toronto).
"Now, with growing evidence that physical activity enhances academic
performance, there's another important reason to get Canadian children to turn
off the screens and get moving. Governments, schools, communities and parents
need to work together to ensure Canada's youth get the physical activity they
desperately need."
    Again this year, the Report Card assigned an F for Screen Time, as 90 per
cent of Canadian children and youth are spending far too much time in front of
television, computer and video screens. Although the rise in popularity of
active video games means screen time is no longer a completely sedentary
activity, active gaming is not a replacement for physical activity. It does
not require the same levels of energy expenditure, nor does it offer the same
opportunities for outdoor play or social interaction.
    "There are plenty of simple ways to add more movement into our children's
lives," says Kelly Murumets, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. "Make physical
activity a part of your family routine by encouraging free play, walking or
biking to school and trading in the screen time for active time."
    Physical activity builds strong, smart kids. Strong, smart kids are the
foundation of a strong, smart society that we need in tough times - and will
lead us to better times. This year's Report Card reveals that we have a
toe-hold on change and that Canada is slowly moving in the right direction.
However, increased and continued commitment is required at all levels of
government, communities, schools and within families to ensure this movement
continues, and positive and measurable change is achieved.
    Among the 19 grades assigned in the Report Card, key findings include:

    -   "D" for Usage of Facilities, Programs, Parks and Playgrounds
    -   "B" for school Infrastructure and Equipment
    -   "C-" for Physical Education in schools
    -   "B+" for Community Programming
    -   "C+" for Provincial Government Strategies and Investment
    -   "D" for Municipal Policies and Regulations

    About the Report Card

    The 2009 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth,
conducted by Active Healthy Kids Canada, was developed in collaboration with
other organizations to build and enhance its foundation as a credible
knowledge source and to effectively disseminate evidence-informed
communications across the sector. CHEO-HALO worked with Active Healthy Kids
Canada's research group to lead the coordination, data collection and data
analysis necessary to develop the Report Card, and provided access to the
latest research findings. ParticipACTION provided communications management to
produce and deliver the Report Card. A full copy of the report can be found at

    About Active Healthy Kids Canada

    Active Healthy Kids Canada was established as a charitable organization
in 1994 to advocate the importance of physical activity for children and youth
where they live, learn and play. As a national leader in this area, Active
Healthy Kids Canada advances knowledge to influence decision-makers at all
levels, from policy-makers to parents, in order to increase the attention
given to, investment in, and effective implementation of physical activity
opportunities for all Canadian children and youth. Production of the Report
Card has been made possible through financial support from the Public Healthy
Agency of Canada, the Lawson Foundation, Kellogg's and the Heart and Stroke

    About CHEO Research Institute - Healthy Active Living and Obesity
    Research Group

    Responding to an alarming rise in childhood obesity, the Healthy Active
Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) has been established to provide
national leadership and research excellence for the prevention and treatment
of obesity in children and youth. This centre of excellence is comprised of a
multidisciplinary group of research scientists, clinicians, and research staff
who are working with local, provincial and national partners to address
obesity and inactivity in children and youth. Located in the Research
Institute of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), HALO is
developing and testing innovative treatments and prevention strategies for the
health and wellness of our most precious resource, our children.

    About ParticipACTION

    ParticipACTION is the national voice of physical activity and sport
participation in Canada. Originally established in 1971, ParticipACTION was
re-launched in 2007 to help prevent the looming inactivity and obesity crisis
that faces Canada. As a national not-for-profit organization solely dedicated
to inspiring and supporting healthy and active living for Canadians, it works
with its partners, which include sport, physical activity, recreation
organizations, government and corporate sponsors, to inspire and support
Canadians to move more. ParticipACTION is generously supported by Sport Canada
and the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information, visit

    To find out more about the Active Healthy Kids Canada's Video B-Roll,
    please visit:

    1 Guertin M. An examination of the effect of a comprehensive school
    health model on academic achievement - The effect of living
    school on EQAO test scores. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto;

For further information:

For further information: copies of the report or b-roll, to schedule an
interview or speak to a spokesperson, please contact: Katherine Janson,
ParticipACTION, (416) 913-1471,; Andrea Wooland,
Hill & Knowlton Canada, (416) 413-4698,;
Nina Kalos, Hill & Knowlton Canada, (416) 413-4642,

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Active Healthy Kids Canada

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