The NEW Minimum Guidelines for
Physical Activity for Children & Youth?

By Anthony Pacitto

Statistics Canada reports only 7% of Canadian children meet the minimum requirements of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week 1. It is well known that physical activity improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk for heart disease. In addition, Dr. John Ratey’s recent research also suggests that children who participate in regular physical activity and/or exercise can see an enhancement in brain function 3. One question that many exercise specialists and medical practitioners are frequently asked is…How much exercise is ‘enough’?

Minimum Guidelines for Children

According to the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP), children and youth should adhere to the following guidelines:

Being Active for 60 Minutes per Day

Children who participating in 60 minutes of physical activity per day can:

  • Do better in school 2
  • Improve Mood (Feel Happy!) 2
  • Improve Self-Confidence 2
  • Increase Bone and Muscle Growth 2

Differences in Intensity

Physical activity that contains moderate-intensity will cause children and youth to slightly sweat and breathe heavier 2. Some examples may be:

  • Pace Walking
  • Bike Riding 2
  • Outdoor Play

Physical activity that contains vigorous-intensity will cause children and youth to sweat and become ‘out of breath’ 2. Some examples may be:

  • Sprinting
  • Rollerblading 2
  • Hockey

  • The Cardiac Health Foundation Of Canada was a proud sponsor of Harvard University’s Dr. John Ratey’s lecture as the Plenary session for the CACR at the Canadian Cardiovascular Conference on Oct 28th 2012 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

    (Topic: The Brain Heart Connection: Exercise & Brain Health)


  1. Statistics Canada (2011) Canadian Health Measures Survey: Physical activity of youth and adults http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110119/dq110119b-eng.htm
  2. CSEP (2011) Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP-InfoSheets-child-ENG.pdf
  3. Ratey, J. (2012, October). The brain-heart connection exercise and brain health.

The articles, on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advice. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.