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Raising a healthy population: Children, physical activity and media.

Published: February 01, 2019

Many children spend too many hours sitting
Many children spend too many hours sitting

What does health mean to you? Each of us has a unique perception of health.

However, no matter what that entails we are dependent upon each other if we want to obtain our health goals.
The environment in which we live influences our personal health and we, as individuals, influence the health of those who live within our environment.
Media, in its various forms, can have both a positive or negative effect on health, particularly for children.
It is not that media in itself negatively affects health, but usage of media in many instances replaces physical activity.
Media related activities tend to be associated with sedentary behaviour which in turn is associated with increased risk of several adverse health effects.
Conversely being physically active on a regular basis is associated with health benefits not only in adults, but also in children.
Despite the depth of knowledge that shows that physical activity promotes health, children today are, in general, less physically active than their parents were as children.
At the same time children are being diagnosed with diseases, such as diabetes type 2, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis), which were previously typically only diagnosed in older adults.
There is also an association between physical activity and overweight/obesity which adds to the risk of ill health.
Childhood obesity not only increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but may also contribute to the incidence of sleep apnea (a sleep disorder wherein you repeatedly stop and start breathing which disturbs your sleep), arthritis, some forms of cancer, and poor psychological health and academic performance.
Being overweight as a child increases your risk of being overweight or obese as an adult which increases associated health risks.
Too much screen time may be harmful to children's health
Too much screen time may be harmful to children's health
Physical activity, particularly physical activity which promotes cardiovascular fitness, is associated with health benefits in children.
It also protects against chronic disease later in life and is a significant factor, along with nutrition, in preventing overweight and obesity.
Children who are more physically active tend to be leaner.
Physical inactivity and increased media time along with the associated adverse health effects is not just a North American phenomenon.
Globally recommendations for health related physical activity... Link to the full article to learn more.


CSEP (2013) Physical Activity Training for Health Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Colley, et al, (2011). Physical activity of Canadian children and youth: Accelerometer results from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey.
Screen time and children (Medline 2013)
Moore et al. (2014). Barriers to Physical Activity and Healthy Diet Among Children Ages 6 Through 13 in a Mississippi Elementary School. Journal of Pediatric Nursing 29, 74-82
Media and children (American Academy of Pediatrics)