(Pixabay)

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

New guidelines set the minimum amount of activity that toddlers, preschoolers and even babies should get each day.

The new report was developed by experts including the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology; obesity specialists at Ottawa’s Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario; and the non-profit group ParticipAction.

The “24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years” suggests kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity spread throughout the day.

That includes at least one hour of “energetic play” for three- and four-year-olds — something that previously wasn’t recommended until age five. Suggestions include running, dancing, or playing outside.

Babies, too, should work on daily goals. Researchers suggest those younger than 12 months get at least 30 minutes of “tummy time” spread throughout the day. It’s the first time this group has been assigned a minimum duration of what could be considered exercise.

VIDEO: Premature baby program to expand across B.C.

The guidelines are based on research that suggests kids aged four and younger are much too sedentary and get too much screen time.

“The earlier we can influence the trajectory of children’s behaviours, growth and development, the better,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Ottawa hospital.

“There’s a greater chance that if that trajectory changes a little wee bit, way back when you’re really young, by the time you reach the end of adolescence that could amount to a whole heck of a lot.”

The guide follows a similar report released in June 2016 with advice for five- to 17-year-olds.

Like that previous report, the guide takes a ”whole day” approach that integrates previously separate recommendations for sedentary and active time. Parents are urged to see how their kids’ sleep, sedentary and active time are all interrelated.

Tremblay says just 13 per cent of preschoolers aged three and four meet the overall guidelines, a shortfall he blames on too much screen time. As much as 76 per cent of preschoolers exceed the one-hour limit of screen time per day.

He’d like to see that age group in “energetic” play for at least 60 minutes spread throughout the day, in addition to two more hours of activity at any level — “more intensity is better,” he adds.

There wasn’t enough data to suggest a minimum amount of energetic play for toddlers aged one and two, but again, Tremblay says more is better.

There was enough data to recommend that babies who are not yet sitting or crawling get at least 30 minutes of waking time on their tummy, supervised and spread out throughout the day.

“Allow them to develop the muscles on the front and the back, in different positions,” Tremblay says of the practice, which puts a baby on their tummy, thereby forcing them to use their neck and back muscles to get a look at their surroundings.

Floor-based play can help build strength, too, with suggestions including reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling.

Also new this time around: references to “screen time” are now qualified as “sedentary screen time.”

That’s because screens have become so ubiquitous that it’s possible for a preschooler to have a smartphone in their hand while walking, says Tremblay.

“The safety of assuming that screen time is sedentary has deteriorated over time,” he acknowledges, adding a quick qualification. “I still think the vast majority of it for all of us is done sedentary.”

There is no recommendation on “active” screen use — such as video games based on a player’s movement — which was not studied.

“I know kids sometimes at home are watching Disney videos and they’re dancing around to them and that happens. That’s better than if they weren’t (moving), but not as good as if they were just dancing around to music with Mom and Dad,” says Tremblay.

“That’s what the literature seems to show — the authenticity of human contact and three-dimensional experiences is better.”

Excessive screen time before age five is linked to language delays, reduced attention and lower school readiness.

While not all sedentary time is harmful — such as reading or storytelling with a caregiver — the report says toddlers and preschoolers should not be allowed to sit for extended periods, or be restrained for more than one hour at a time, such as in a stroller.

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary students’ bill brought to fruition

Pachet and Bottomley in Ottawa for the big moment in the House of Commons

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Car fire destroys vehicle in Chemainus

Traffic rerouted for a short time at the Henry Road roundabout

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Bottom line on North Cowichan tax bill must be kept in check

Property owners only have so much money at their disposal

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Most Read