Are Canadian Kids Getting Outdoors Enough? Guest Blog: Dr. Lauren Redgate

Cover Photo Credit: Darryl MacDonald, Clear Blue Photography

As Canadians, we are so fortunate to live in a developed country where our most prominent health issues are due to non-communicable diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and mental health disorders.  Many of the health concerns our population faces have modifiable risk factors. 

Canadian Kids Aren't Getting Outdoors Enough

Canadian Kid are Playing Less Outdoors

As a pediatrician, I spend a lot of my time counseling families on healthy lifestyle changes for both prevention and treatment of a variety of medical conditions.  As a country, we aren’t doing a great job of “healthy active living”- 36% of 10-13 year olds spend >3 hrs per day using digital devices for reasons unrelated to school work1and less than 40% of Canadian youth meet national physical activity recommendations2. Obesity rates in Canadian children have nearly tripled in the last 30 years3and we are starting to see Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in young children. 

Restoring Balance

Outdoor play has the potential to improve the health of Canadian children in many ways: by naturally reducing screen time, increasing physical activity, and providing opportunity for healthy parent-child relationship development. Getting our children outdoors and encouraging active bodies and minds is a great step we as parents can take towards improving the physical and mental health of the next generation. 

Recommended Benchmarks

The Canadian Paediatric Society has some great resources on how much activity school aged (5 years – 11 years) children should be aiming for

Physical activity

Sedentary behaviour

Accumulate ≥ 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily, including:

  • Vigorous-intensity activities (≥ 3 days/week)
  • Activities that strengthen muscle and bone (≥ 3 days/week)

Minimize sedentary time:

  • Limit recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours a day
  • Limit sedentary (motorized) transport, sitting time, and time indoors 


    Dr. Lauren Redgate Infinity Pediatrics CalgaryDr. Lauren Redgate is community pediatrician in Calgary. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary medical school and pediatric residency training at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the co-owner of Infinity Pediatrics, a clinic that provides comprehensive general pediatric care in Calgary. Outside of work, she has a busy family life as a mom to 3-year-old twins. She loves to travel, having been to over 25 countries around the world. One of her favorite destinations is close to home – the Rocky Mountains, where she loves to snowboard, hike, and explore the outdoors.




    1. Brisson-Boivin K. The Digital Well-Being of Canadian Families. Ottawa, Ont.: MediaSmarts: 2018: http://ca/research-policy (Accessed Feb. 17, 2020)
    2. Statistics Canada. Physical activity and screen time among Canadian children and youth, 2016 and 2017: Feb. 17, 2020)
    3. Government of Canada. Childhood Obesity. Feb. 17, 2020)



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