June 28, 2012
Get Active Toronto released its 2012 Report on Physical Activity in Toronto and seven key recommendations to improve physical activity in Toronto, specifically with youth.
For the past decade Toronto residents have recorded low levels of physical activity during leisure time. In fact, only 42% of Torontonians are physically activity during leisure time, the time that they are in control of their lifestyle. With largely sedentary work and school environments, now more than ever it is more critical for people to incorporate physical activity during leisure time.
"With youth in particular we must encourage active healthy lifestyles now or they will be at risk for multiple health concerns as they grow older," said Dr. David McKeown, Chief Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto. "Our young girls are the least physically active population group in Canada, we have to do something to change that."
While youth have many opportunities to be physically active in playgrounds, sports teams and in gym class, overweight and obesity among youth is on the rise. Far too few youth are active enough to derive significant health benefits.
"We know increasing physical activity in youth positively affects physical, mental and emotional growth and development during adolescence and will ensure lifelong habits," said Medhat Mahdy, Chair, Get Active Toronto. "We have to create environments that are safe for kids to play in, especially when our youth tell us that bullying is a barrier to physical activity for them. We can do something about this and we will."
2012 Get Active Toronto Report Highlights:
Low levels of physical activity have not changed much over the last decade - To generate an increase in youth physical activity Get Active Toronto recommends the involvement and integration of youth in developing and implementing initiatives.
Socio-cultural barriers make a difference - Youth from low income households are less active then youth from high-income households. It is imperative to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources, supplies and activities among Toronto schools.
Large gap among youth about knowing and doing - Youth are more likely to engage in physical activity when they understand and perceive that physical activity is fun. It is critical to link fun physical activities to health gains for youth - fun, fitness, and education together.
Girls are less active than boys - In 2009/10, 50% of girls were inactive compared to 27% for boys. Girls at the Youth Summit* believe homework and responsibilities at home (chores, taking care of siblings) prevent them from engaging in physical activity after school. A key recommendation is to link sports and physical activity and recreation to social and networking opportunities to encourage participation of girls.
Girls may require a different approach - Recognize the changing needs of growing girls and adapt sports, physical activity and recreation accordingly.
Schools play an important role in fostering physical activity - Encourage school boards to hire full time experienced health and physical education teachers. Treat physical education as the necessity it is: critical to a lifetime of health and wellbeing; and just as critical as grammar, math and science.
Environment and neighborhoods make a difference - Support the development of walkable neighbourhoods in Toronto. Promote the development of safe recreation spaces (indoor and outdoor) that are accessible by all Torontonians.
*The Get Active Toronto Youth Summit was held in May 2012 in conjunction with the YMCA Youth Leaders Training conference.
For the full Get Active Toronto 2012 Report on Physical Activity, please go to www.getactivetoronto.com
For more information :
YMCA of Greater Toronto / GET ACTIVE TORONTO
2200 Yonge Street, 3rd Floor
Canada, M4S 2B9