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Canadian Paediatric Society

Physical activity promotion: Every physician has a role to play

Posted on Oct 21 2013 by the Canadian Paediatric Society | Permalink

Topic(s): Professional educationPublic education

Despite growing awareness about the importance of physical activity, many Canadian children and youth are not active enough for optimal growth and development. And as children get older, they spend more and more time inactive.

Health professionals play an important role in helping children, youth and families establish and maintain healthy habits, especially during the early years of life.

Active Kids, Healthy Kids is a new Canadian Paediatric Society program to help to engage health professionals in promoting healthy active living in their practices. It incorporates the Canadian physical activity and sedentary behavior guidelines for children and youth published by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology in 2012.

“Physicians absolutely have to play a role in helping families incorporate healthy living into their daily activities,” said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, Chair of the Active Kids, Healthy Kids Project Advisory Committee. “Even if we think we don’t have enough time in our practices, if we get into the habit of asking one question about healthy lifestyles at every visit, it will make a difference.”

Physicians can:

  • Talk to families about the benefits of physical activity.
  • Ask about physical activity and sedentary behavior, and help families make changes to their daily routines.
  • Prescribe physical activity or a reduction in screen time.
  • Promote healthy eating, good sleep hygiene and mental wellness.
  • Share resources and materials with families to help them get and stay active.

Active Kids, Healthy Kids has a number of tools to help:

  • A guide for physicians with strategies on how to implement the Canadian guidelines in the clinical setting including tips on what to do in the office, ideas for parents and solutions to common barriers.
  • A prescription for healthy active kids to set specific goals with children and adolescents and give ideas for things to do.
  • A series of posters promoting physical activity for every age for use in health care or community settings.
  • A training program of four age-specific modules to help educate paediatric residents and other health professionals on the importance of healthy eating, good sleep hygiene, reducing sedentary behaviours, increasing physical activity and the promotion of mental wellness in all age groups.
  • Resources to share with parents on including a monthly email with tips and reminders for incorporating physical activity into their daily lives.

“Whether you are a generalist or a subspecialist, in a community or hospital setting, there are always opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of healthy living,” says Dr. LeBlanc. “Everyone who sees children and youth can do their part.”

Funding for Active Kids, Healthy Kids was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information visit:



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Last updated: Aug 29 2017