Physical Activity and the Early Years Slide Deck - PARC

Physical Activity and the Early Years
Section Index
Section 1 – Intro/Benefits
Section 2 - Statistics
Section 3 – Physical Literacy
Section 4 – Activity Guidelines
Section 5 – How to Get Kids Active
Section 6 – Resources
Physical Activity and the Early Years
Target Audiences
(a) Municipal Council: Sec 1,2,3,6
(b) Early Childhood/Daycare Workers: Sec 1,3,4,5,6
(c) Public Health – Health Promoters: Sec 1,2,3,4,5,6
(d) Public Health – Managers: Sec 1,2,3,4,6
(e) Students – Sec 1,3,4,5,6
Physical Activity
and the Early Years
This presentation was developed by
The Physical Activity Resource Centre
for use by physical activity
promoters across Ontario.
Workshop Objectives
By the end of this workshop, participants will:
• Know the current physical activity levels of young children
• Be reminded of the many benefits of physical activity
• Be knowledgeable of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for
the Early Years and be able to promote the guidelines to parents,
caregivers and early childhood educators
• Have knowledge and access to tools and activities that they can
effectively integrate into their programming, helping to develop
and foster physical literacy
PARC Services
PARC is the Centre of Excellence for physical activity promotion in Ontario.
PARC is managed by Ophea and is funded by the Government of Ontario.
PARC services support capacity-building, knowledge-sharing and learning
PARC services include:
• Consultations & referrals
• Trainings & workshops
• Physical activity resources:
- Website ( - sign up for listserv)
- Posters
- Informational tools and booklets
- Walk This Way kits
Ophea Overview
All children and youth value and enjoy the lifelong benefits of healthy, active
Ophea champions healthy, active living in schools and communities through
quality programs and services, partnerships and advocacy.
• A provincial not-for-profit organization - established in 1921 and incorporated
in 1990
• Dedicated to supporting Ontario schools and communities through quality
program supports, partnerships, and advocacy
• Supportive of Health and Physical Education (H&PE) as a foundational
component of healthy schools and communities
Physical Activity and the Early Years
Physical Activity
Physical activity is an important part of a child’s
physical, mental and emotional development.
According to the Active Healthy Kids Canada
Report Card (2010):
• Children under five require adequate
unstructured play and time outdoors for
physical, cognitive and emotional
• The early years are a critical period for
healthy development. Research shows
lifestyle patterns set before the age of five
predict obesity and health outcomes in later
childhood and through adulthood.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Strengthens the heart and lungs
Helps build strong bones and muscles
Develops good posture
Increases energy
Improves fitness levels
Enhances flexibility
Improves coordination and balance
Helps maintain a healthy body weight
Helps improve sleeping and eating habits
Helps develop fundamental movement skills
Enhances development of brain function and
neural pathways
Benefits of Physical Activity
Psychological / Emotional
• Encourages fun and makes children feel happy
• Reduces anxiety and helps young children feel good about
• Prevents, reduces, manages depression
• Improves the ability to deal with stress
• Helps build confidence and positive self-esteem
• Enhances emotional development
• Helps young children form impressions about themselves and their
Benefits of Physical Activity
Improves problem-solving skills/abilities
Improves learning and attention
Increases concentration
Improves memory
Enhances creativity
Benefits of Physical Activity
• Teaches important skills such as sports
skills and life skills
• Provides opportunities for children to
practice/develop social skills and
leadership skills
• Encourages interaction and helps
develop friendships
• Develops positive lifelong attitudes
toward physical activity
• Encourages healthy family engagement
• Helps nurture and promote imagination
and creativity
Let’s get
Physical Activity and the Early Years
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Physical Inactivity
• 69% of Canadian children are not meeting international
physical activity guidelines. (Active Healthy Kids Canada
Report Card, 2010)
• Only 36% of 2-3-year-olds and 44% of 4-5-year-olds engage
regularly in unorganized sport and physical activity each
week. (National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth)
• Measures of physical fitness are declining.
• In children, there is strong evidence that the prevalence of
obesity is at unprecedented high levels.
• Obesity levels are high even in the early years (0–4 years).
• Engaging in regular physical activity is widely accepted as an
effective preventative measure for not only obesity, but a
variety of health risks in school-aged children.
Physical Activity Levels
• Physical activity levels start to decline at age three.
• Compared with 3-year-old children, 4 and 5-year-old boys and girls
spent more time in sedentary activity.
• Consistently, girls are less active than boys; in some studies - in
children as young as infancy and 18 months.
• Boys engage in greater overall amounts of physical activity; they
also tend to engage in higher intensity activities than girls.
• The estimated prevalence of overweight among 2- to 5-year old
children in two different studies was 11% and 18%.
26% of Canadian children are overweight or
obese (Tremblay 2010)
Physical inactivity
is an important
public health
Heart Disease
Economic Burden of Physical Inactivity in Canada
Breast Cancer
High Blood Pressure
Type 2 Diabetes
Colon Cancer
$6.8 Billion
Sedentary Behaviour
These sedentary activities, especially those that are screen-based,
are associated with…
risk for obesity
(Tremblay et al. 2011c)
pro-social behaviour,
academic achievement
Screen Time
• In 1971, the average age at which children began to watch TV was 4
years; today, it is 5 months!
• More than 90% of kids begin watching TV before the age of two.
• Compared with school-aged children, screen time may be associated
with additional negative health outcomes in early years (Christakis et
al. 2009; Lillard & Peterson 2011).
• Increased television viewing is associated with unfavourable measures
of obesity, psychosocial health, and cognitive development.
• There is no evidence to support television viewing as beneficial for
improved psychosocial or cognitive development. In several instances,
a dose–response relationship existed between increased time spent
watching television and decreased psychosocial or cognitive
Amount of Physical Activity in Children
Let’s get
Physical Activity and the Early Years
Why is physical literacy so important?
• Physically literate children lead healthy active lives.
• Children who are not physically literate avoid physical
activity and may turn to sedentary or unhealthy lifestyle
• Children who are physically active: are ready to learn,
have better personal satisfaction, have better and safer
Physically literate individuals...
move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical
activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy
development of the whole person.
-PHE Canada, 2012
Skill-Based Literacies
Physical Literacy
Movement Skills
Developing skills and then being able to understand and apply
Physical literacy is essential for optimal
growth and development
Physical literacy
lays the foundation
for an active life.
Early Brain Development
Developing physical literacy and
participation in regular physical activity supports
learning, readiness and positive behaviours.
Anxiety &
Behaviour related
Physical Literacy
HANDS UP | Part 1 - Introduction to Physical & Health Literacy
How do
we develop
children who are
“Active for Life”?
Who helps children develop these skills?
Source: Developing Physical Literacy, Figure 2 Who is responsible for Physical Literacy?
Canadian Sport for Life,
Fundamental Movement Skills
Impacts of Physical Literacy
Source: Canadian Sport For Life
Physical Literacy Across Sectors
Leisure: Recreation & Sport
• Fundamental Movement Skills  General Movement Sequences 
Performance Excellence and Participation
Performance Arts
• Circus, dance
• Any vocation with physicality: firefighter, armed services, dry waller,
iron worker, underwater welder
Activities of Daily Living
• Garden, paint, hammer, walk on slippery surfaces
Injury Prevention
• Lift, carry, transfer
• Falls, stumble recovery, landing
Source: Dr. Dean Kriellaars
Supporting Physical Literacy
Quality Programs and
Supportive Environments
Opportunities for active play
Let’s get
Physical Activity and the Early Years
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
12-17 years
5-11 years
Early Years
0-4 years
18-64 years
65 years +
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Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines:
0-4 years
• These guidelines are relevant to all apparently healthy
infants (aged <1 year), toddlers (aged 1–2 years), and
preschoolers (aged 3–4 years), irrespective of gender, race,
ethnicity, or socio-economic status of the family.
• Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers should be encouraged to
participate in a variety of age-appropriate, enjoyable and
safe physical activities that support their healthy growth and
development, and occur in the context of family, child care,
school, and community.
• Children in the early years should be physically active daily
as part of play, games, sports, transportation, recreation,
and physical education.
Being active 0-4 years means…
• Tummy time
• Reaching and grabbing for toys
• Playing or rolling around on the floor
• Crawling
• Any activity that gets toddlers moving
• The activity should be more intense as the child gets older
A Word About Infants
Physical activity helps to build
a babies sense of his/her own
identity. When babies control
their movements better, they
start to be able to make things
happen in their environment.
Moving and Growing. Physical Activities for the
First Two Years
Canadian Child Care Federation, Canadian
Institute of Child Health, 2004
A Word About Infants
• Physical activity helps babies to be healthy, alert, relaxed and happy.
• Regular activity establishes connections in the brain that lead to
• Strength, endurance, ease of movement, flexibility,
coordination, balance
• Parents/caregivers also notice that with regular activity, babies are often:
• Easier to soothe
• Have better sleep habits
• Have improved digestion
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Being active 5-11 years means…
• Moderate to vigorous intensity physical activities should
cause children to sweat a little and breath a little harder.
• Bike riding
• Playground activities
• Vigorous intensity physical activities should cause
children to sweat and be “out of breath”
• Running
• Swimming
Let’s get
Physical Activity and the Early Years
Tips for Getting Infants Active
• Provide opportunities for supervised tummy time several times
each day.
• Provide opportunities for movement both indoors and outdoors.
• Provide a variety of play objects with different textures, sizes and
shapes. Use large blocks, stacking toys, nesting cups, textured
balls, squeeze toys, parachutes.
• Limit an infant’s time in bouncy seats, swings, car seats and
playpens to no more than 15 minutes at a time.
• Encourage and assist infants to roll, reach, scoot, sit, stand, crawl
and walk.
• Provide parents with a daily update of their infant’s physical
activity and skill development
• Remember! Screen time is not recommended for infants.
Tips for Getting Young Children Active
Ensure that physical activity experiences:
• Are fun and safe
• Are a positive experience, free of negative pressure
• Provide diverse and interesting activities, games and
skill development opportunities
• Are challenging
• Consist of small but achievable goals
• Emphasize basic motor skill development, such as
running, rolling, climbing, throwing, catching and
• Take place in short bursts with frequent breaks
• Are part of a child’s daily routine
Tips for Getting Young Children Active
While it is important to provide challenges for young children, it is
equally important to ensure that activities are developmentally
appropriate and safe. Children are not small adults. It is important to
modify the equipment, space to suit the needs of young children.
• Use lighter softer, larger balls
• Choose shorter, lighter bats and racquets
• Choose larger goals or target areas
• Partially deflate balls for dribbling and kicking
• Simplify games by having children drop and catch the ball rather
than bouncing it consecutively
• Modify the size of the playing area to make it easier for all players
to participate
Tips for Getting Young Children Active
• Be an active role model and an active
participant in games and play with the
• Display photos of the children being active.
Put up posters depicting physical activity.
• Use equipment that does not label by
gender, such as balls, hoops, beanbags, etc.
• Limit rules that discourage physical activity
(e.g., no balls, no running, etc.)
• Encourage and facilitate outdoor play as
much as possible.
Tips for Getting Young Children Active
• Provide opportunities for children to participate in vigorous
forms of physical activity such as running, dancing, chasing a
ball and jumping.
• Promote activities that use large muscle groups and
encourage movement of the whole body.
• Develop physical activity programming that benefits all
children regardless of body type, size, skill, coordination.
• The goal is not to produce Olympic athletes but to
contribute to lifelong attitudes that value physical activity.
Children with a Disability
• An inclusive environment is one that provides the opportunity for
children of all abilities and interests to participate in all
• Inclusive environments recognize the inherent value of each child,
the right to take risks and make mistakes, the need for
independence and self-determination, and the right to choice.
• In all age groups, Canadians with a disability are less likely than
other Canadians to participate in regular physical activities.
• Everyone has a responsibility to remove barriers for children with
disabilities so that they can have equal access to physical
• For more information on physical activity modifications, see
Ophea’s Steps to Inclusion resource.
Children with a Disability
In an inclusive program:
Activities are modified, adapted and
individualized as necessary.
Expectations are realistic yet
Assistance is provided only to the
degree required.
Dignity of risk and availability of
choices are respected and fostered.
Visual cues include children with
varying abilities.
Activities are taught/led using
different learning styles.
Equipment is adapted/modified as
Reflecting a Variety of Cultures
• Select visuals (e.g., posters, wall cards, etc.) and resources
that reflect diversity in gender and ethnicity.
• Use music and activities that reflect various cultures
including songs, instruments and dances.
• Encourage children to express themselves according to their
culture when participating in imaginative games and
• Use culturally appropriate props, equipment and materials.
Teaching Physical Literacy in children
prevents injuries!
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active
Some young children may be hesitant to engage in physical activity. It
is important to use observational skills to identify clues that may
explain a child’s reluctance to be active. It is also helpful to have
some general strategies at your fingertips!
Think, Pair, Share
• What might be some reasons that young children do not
participate in physical activity?
• What are some strategies for implementing/promoting
physical activity (how, what, when)?
Let’s Get Active
Circle Time
Let’s Get Active
Small Spaces
Let’s Get Active
Large Spaces
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active: Scenarios
Scenario 1:
Some young children might not like to engage in structured
physical activity because of the task of learning and
abiding by rules.
• Encourage and provide opportunities for free play or other
unstructured forms of physical activity, such as dance.
• Limit the number of rules and instructions.
• Allow children to create their own games and make up
their own rules
• Use positive instruction (e.g., “walk” vs. “don’t run”).
• Provide different types of indoor and outdoor equipment to encourage
active play. Ensure that equipment promotes gross motor skills and
moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
• Ensure opportunities to be active indoors exist for those intimidated by
outdoor play.
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active: Scenarios
Scenario 2:
Some young children may appear frustrated, cry or show a lack of
interest during physical activity.
• Choose times to be active when children are well-fed, rested and
alert. Be sure fluids are always available.
• Watch out for signs of fatigue during physical activity and end the
activity before children start losing interest or stop having fun.
• Schedule physical activity for early in the day. Morning is often
the best time for structured activity.
• Ensure children have sunscreen and are dressed appropriately for
the weather (hot or cold).
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active: Scenarios
Scenario 3:
Children like routine and like to know what
to expect in terms of timing, location of
activities, etc.
• Make physical activity part of a daily routine, just like lunch and nap
time. This way, children will know to expect that it is time to learn a
new skill, play, etc.
• Expose children to different physical activity environments to help
develop skills and strategies for adjusting to different situations.
• Take children for regular walks around the neighbourhood.
• Encourage parents to walk/cycle their children to preschool/daycare
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active: Scenarios
Scenario 4:
Some young children are shy or embarrassed to try a new skill or because
they have had difficulty with a skill, game, etc. in the past
• Teach the skill in a different way or try a new activity that teaches the
same skill.
• Use toys, rather than equipment to learn a new skill.
• Build children's self-confidence in physical activity by using praise,
encouragement and positive feedback. Do not force a child to perform
an activity.
• Children should never be singled out or embarrassed into physical
• Allow children to choose the type of activity they are interested in.
• Be accepting of different body shapes and ability levels.
• Use cooperative games that do not exclude anyone or ask anyone to
sit out.
Practical Strategies for Getting Young
Children Active: Scenarios
Scenario 5:
There may be limited (real or perceived) time for scheduling a planned,
dedicated time to be active in a pre-school/day care setting.
Build physical activity into other aspects of the program. For example:
• Develop arts and crafts that require children to move around.
• Encourage children to act out words/scenes in a story while reading a book.
• Incorporate physical activity into math lessons (e.g., 2+2 = 4 jumping jacks).
• While teaching the alphabet, encourage children to make the letters with
their bodies.
• While teaching about animals, encourage children to move around the room
like the animals they are learning about.
• Incorporate physical activity into circle time lessons
• Encourage children to do movements common to the season while learning
about days and months of the year (e.g., it is Dec. 20 – encourage children to
do 20 snow shovels or 20 big snow shoe steps).
Group Brainstorm
• What do you do to get kids moving inside?
• What do you do to get kids moving outside?
• What do you do to limit sedentary time?
Physical Activity and the Early Years
• Active Healthy Kids Canada:
• Best Start Resource Center:
• Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute:
• Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology:
• Caring for Kids:
• McMaster University Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program:
• ParticipACTION:
• Alberta Centre for Active Living:
Presentation title| Date
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Resources – Physical Activity Links
• Rainbow Fun: A physical activity and healthy eating
program for young children
• Greater Sudbury: Physical activity resource guide for
childcare centres
• Best Start: Have a ball together
• Mount Royal College: A Hop, Skip and a Jump:
Enhancing Physical Literacy
Ophea’s Early Learning Cards – Easy-to-implement activities that support
H&PE learning areas of the Full Day Kindergarten program.
Ophea Alphabet Yoga Cards – Playful poses that teach children the basics of
yoga while developing their physical literacy and language skills.
PlaySport - An educational website with many great activities designed to
teach kids games by playing games!
Healthy Opportunities for Preschoolers. Viviene Temple, Justen O’Connor
HANDS UP – A three-part illustrated video series on health and physical
Presentation title| Date
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• Developing Policy to Advance Physical Literacy in Child Care
Settings in Alberta. Wellspring, December 2012, Volume 23,
Number 6. The Alberta Centre for Active Living
• Canadian Sport for Life
• Moving and Growing Series. Canadian Child Care Federation and
Canadian Institute of Child Health; 2004;
• Fun and Physical Activity; Toronto Public Health.
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• Resources
• Great Ideas
• Success Stories
• Questions
• Evaluation
Dr. Jory Basso, BSc, Dip SIM, CSCS, DC
Chiropractor, Professor
Hybrid Health & Fitness Toronto
Janet Dawson, CPT, BSc. HE, MSc.
Health Promoter
Peterborough County-City Health Unit
Chris Sherman BHK, B.Ed.
Public Health Educator,
Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit

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