Thursday, December 21, 2017

“The Whole Day Matters!” 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years

The highly-anticipated 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0-4) were released last month, outlining how much young children need to move, sleep, and sit each day. As part of the knowledge translation activities for the new Guidelines, principal investigator Dr. Mark Tremblay delivered a webinar on December 19th, 2017 describing the comprehensive process that was taken to develop the Guidelines, the importance of focusing on movement throughout the day, and how different stakeholders can use and promote the new Guidelines.

The process of developing the Guidelines was extensive! A leadership committee made up of the principal investigators, funders, research leads, and methodology consultants met over 50 times from 2015-2017. Four systematic reviews were conducted (drawing information from 271 papers), 1 meta-analysis was performed, stakeholder consultations were held, and 6 days of meetings were held to develop and reach consensus on the final Guidelines. The Guideline Development Panel did such a great job that other countries from around the world have since followed Canada’s lead and developed similar 24-hour guidelines (i.e. Australia and New Zealand).

So, why do we need 24-Hour Movement Guidelines instead of Physical Activity Guidelines? 

As physical activity promoters, we often emphasize getting the right amount of physical activity in a day… but what about the rest of the time? There is more than just “moderate-to-vigorous” movement in a typical day, however, before the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines there was a lack of evidence-based recommendations for sedentary behaviour or sleep for the early years. In his webinar, Dr. Tremblay explained this imbalance through an enlightening comparison to nutrition guidelines: We don’t see nutrition guidelines focus on just one food group and exclude the rest – it wouldn’t make any sense! In the same way, we shouldn’t be focusing on only the most active part of the day. Guidelines pertaining to all movements (sitting, sleeping, and being active) and how they interact with each other are equally important.

These new integrated guidelines will be useful to many different users. As physical activity promoters and public health professionals we can:
  • Read the background documents to master the content.
  • Disseminate the press release to local media.
  • Disseminate the Guidelines through social media platforms.
  • Link the Guidelines on our websites.
  • Provide hard copies of the Guidelines in waiting rooms, workshops, and as part of displays.
  • Offer 24-hour movement workshops through EarlyON & other parent child programs.
  • Integrate the content in all resources & presentations to parents, future parents and service providers.
  • Provide professional development to other service providers.
  • Support policy

To sum it all up: when it comes to movement, the whole day matters! To read more about the Guidelines, check out

The Guidelines were developed in partnership with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute – Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, the University of Alberta Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, ParticipACTION, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.