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Sedentary Behaviour in Children and Youth: A New Health Risk Published: ()

Did you know? Activities that require very little movement, that involve sitting or reclining, are called sedentary behaviours.

Among children, common sedentary behaviours include sitting while watching TV, playing on the computer or iPad, or texting. Excessive time spent being sedentary is linked to poor health in children and youth, no matter how active they are. More and more, evidence is suggesting that it is not just physical activity that impacts how healthy you are, but also what you do during down-time.

Encouraging children and youth to give up even small amounts of screen-based activities each day in exchange for physical activities of any kind can make an important difference in their health and well-being.

Sedentary behaviour and physical activity are just two of the eight behavioural risk and protective factors included in the Chronic Disease and Injury Indicator Framework, which is updated annually.

8.5 hours

Excluding sleeping hours, Canadian youth (17 and under) spend on average 8.5 hours daily being sedentary. [PHAC]

9.3 vs 7.6 hours

Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are more sedentary than children aged 5 to 11 by almost 2 hours daily. (9.3 versus 7.6 hours per day). [PHAC]


72% of children and youth (age 5-17) spend more than 2 hours per day watching television or using computers during their leisure-time. This exceeds the ‎Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, which recommend no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. [PHAC]


Only 9.3% of children and youth (ages 5-17) meet the recommended Physical Activity Guidelines of doing at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. [PHAC]

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