July 9, 2016

Patricia E. Longmuir1, Rachel C. Colley1, Valerie A. Wherley2, & Mark S. Tremblay1

1 Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, Ottawa ON, Canada.

2 Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science, Sacred Heart University, Farfield CT, USA.

Current guidelines recommend children be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day. However, high profile media coverage when young athletes die during sport competition has raised questions regarding the safety of promoting physical activity to children. With funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute brought together a group of 30 experts (June 2012) to consider the safety of promoting increased physical activity for children. With backgrounds in exercise and physical activity, bioethics, law, recreation, and medicine, the experts identified the need for an evidence-based statement summarizing what we know about the benefits and risks of physical activity for children.

The expert group recommendations form the basis of the position stand adopted by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (APNM) . The position stand provides an important overview of knowledge in the area of risk of physical activity for children and suggests both practical guidelines and a research agenda. Most importantly, the position stand emphasizes that more research is needed because at this point we have little to no good quality data about the benefits and risks of childhood physical activity.

Key recommendations for the responsible promotion of childhood physical activity by CSEP Health and Exercise members are:

Before encouraging children to change the type of physical activity or to increase the frequency, intensity or duration of their activity, leaders should ask whether “a healthcare provider has said there are some types of physical activity that the child should not do”.
High quality research is required on the benefits and risks of childhood physical activity and inactivity. New data on physical activity injuries that accounts for the amount of activity performed are required. We also need data on the risks of sedentary lifestyles and the effectiveness of current risk management strategies and screening approaches.
Professionals and researchers should make it a priority to share accurate, evidence-based information about the benefits of physical activity and the risks of sedentary behaviour in children.
Parents and professionals should encourage all children to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

These recommendations have been established by CSEP as a minimum acceptable standard that is applicable to all physical activity opportunities organized for children, whether those opportunities occur in a community, school or research setting.


Longmuir, P.; Colley, R.; Tremblay, M.; and Wherley, V. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Position Stand: Benefit and Risk for Promoting Childhood Physical Activity. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Vol. 39. Doi: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0074.

This article is a summary of an article published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism. If you intend citing any information in this article, please consult the original article and cite that source.