Ophea supports key findings - active kids are fit to learn

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

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - Ophea (Ontario Physical and Health Education
Association) concurs with the 2009 Report Card on Physical Activity for
Children and Youth, released today by Active Healthy Kids Canada (AHKC). The
Report Card finds children who are physically active perform better in school
than those who are not active. Interestingly, academic performance improves
even when academic learning time is reduced to allow time for physical
    "Ophea strongly believes that physical activity is essential to overall
health and development of children and youth," says Chris Markham, Executive
Director of Ophea. "Supporting research in the 2009 Report Card indicates that
health and learning outcomes of children and youth are directly
interconnected, something Ophea has seen first hand with our own work
supporting Ontario's schools and communities."
    In Ontario there has been progress with recent and upcoming government
policies (i.e.: Daily Physical Activity, Healthy Schools and the renewed
Health and Physical Education curriculum). These policies are important first
steps. Ophea believes that shared responsibility among many stakeholders,
parents, community leaders, provincial and national organizations, and
governments at all levels is needed to make a strong and positive impact on
physical activity levels. Ophea also looks to improve physical activity
through advocacy, quality programs and services, and partnership building
efforts, that support educators and community leaders to implement key
provincial policies and initiatives -encouraging children and youth across
Ontario to lead healthy active lives.
    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. Similar findings are mirrored in various international,
national and regional studies.
    "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, AHKC, 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.
    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, AHKC (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.

    Among the 19 grades assigned in the Report Card, key findings include:
    -   "F" for Physical Activity Levels
    -   "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

    To view the 2009 Report Card visit www.activehealthykids.ca

    Ophea is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting schools
and communities through quality program supports, partnerships and advocacy.
Ophea is committed to working in partnership with government, school boards,
boards of health, and non-government organizations to address needs and
support initiatives related to school health, curriculum, and a variety of
health related topics. Ophea is led by the vision that all kids will value,
participate in, and make a lifelong commitment to healthy active living. For
more information, visit www.ophea.net

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact: Ruth
Kates, Ophea, (416) 426-7120, ruth@ophea.org; Emily Kwong, Ophea, (416)
426-7120, emily@ophea.org

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