Physical activity is a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Yet increasingly we are seeing that Canadians of all ages are choosing sedentary activities over active ones. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with the right balance of physical activity and rest, plays an important role in Canadians’ overall health, well-being, and quality of life, regardless of age.

Because an increase in the amount of time spent in any one of these movement-related behaviours that comprise a 24-hour day will change the amount of time spent in another, emerging research has considered how they may interact to influence health. These time-use factors have highlighted the importance of all movement behaviours across the whole day (24-hour period).

Canada has developed 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, providing guidance on the optimal amount of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep – and the best combination of these behaviours – for Canadians of all ages.

SOURCE: Canadian Society For Exercise Physiology

The Canadian 24 hour movement guidelines are for ages 0-4 are:

Infants (less than 1 year)

  • Being physically active several times in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play—more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day while awake.
  • 14 to 17 hours (for those aged 0-3 months) or 12 to 16 hours (for those aged 4-11 months) of good-quality sleep, including naps.
  • Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Toddlers (1-2 years)

  • At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play, spread throughout the day—more is better.
  • 11 to 14 hours of good-quality sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
  • Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair) or sitting for extended periods. For those younger than 2 years, sedentary screen time is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour—less is better. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Preschoolers (3-4 years)

  • At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day, of which at least 60 minutes is energetic play—more is better.
  • 10 to 13 hours of good-quality sleep, which may include a nap, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
  • Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or car seat) or sitting for extended periods. Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour—less is better. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Children and Youth (5-17 years)

  • An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities, and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
  • Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activities.
  • Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;
  • No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; Limited sitting for extended periods.

Adults (18-64) (65+)

  • Adults should spend 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Include at least 2 days per week of muscle and bone strengthening activities.
  • Several hours of light physical activities, including standing.
  • Older adults with poor mobility should perform physical activities that will enhance and improve balance and prevent falls.
  • Limiting sedentary time to 8 hours or less, which includes:
    • No more than 3 hours of recreational screen time, and
    • Breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible
  • Getting 7 to 9 hours of good-quality sleep on a regular basis, with consistent bed and wake-up times for adults ages 18-64.
  • Getting 7 to 8 hours of good-quality sleep on a regular basis, with consistent bed and wake-up times for adults ages 65+.

For more information and further guidelines and recommendations, visit the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology at https://csepguidelines.ca/