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Make your whole day matter

Queen’s University researchers contribute to new health guidelines that recommend moving more, sleeping well, and cutting down sedentary time.

With COVID-19 posing many challenges to overall physical and mental health, it is more important than ever for people to have a clear understanding of what they can do throughout the day to stay healthy.  

Robert Ross

Queen’s University researchers Robert Ross and Jennifer Tomasone have helped develop the first ever 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults that show what a healthy use of 24 hours looks like. The guidelines are unique because they integrate the three movement behaviours (physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours) for those aged 18-64 and 65 and older. They also feature new recommendations on light physical activity including standing. 

“These guidelines pull together the best available evidence from across the globe to show Canadians how to make their whole day matter when it comes to movement behaviour,” says Dr. Ross (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies), Chair, Guideline Development Panel. “They are arriving at a critical juncture in the country’s overall health. It’s important that Canadians understand that while it may feel challenging at times, some activity is always better than none and progressing towards any of the guideline targets will result in important health benefits.” 

Jennifer Tomasone

The guidelines were developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), the Public Health Agency of Canada, Queen’s University, ParticipACTION, and a network of researchers and stakeholders from across Canada. 

Even before COVID-19, Canadian adults received a grade of “D” for overall physical activity according to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults. The Report Card also showed 29 per cent of adults in Canada fall within the “low active” lifestyle category and adults 18 to 79 years old are sedentary for almost 10 hours per day. 

“To increase Canadians’ awareness of the new guidelines, our knowledge translation team has created a suite of evidence-based public-facing materials,” says Dr. Tomasone (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies), Chair, Knowledge Translation Team. “These materials are designed to highlight that by moving more, reducing sedentary time, and sleeping well, we can make our whole day matter for our health. The materials are freely and openly available for sharing at csepguidelines.ca and ParticipACTION.com” 

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines focus on three core recommendations for adults: 

  • Move More: Add movement throughout your day, including a variety of types and intensities.  Aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity, muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week, and several hours of light physical activities, including standing. Those 65+ should also include physical activities that challenge balance.
  • Reduce Sedentary Time: Limit sedentary time to eight hours or less per day including no more than three hours of recreational screen time and breaking up long periods of sitting where possible. 
  • Sleep Well: For those aged 18-64 set yourself up for seven to nine hours of good quality sleep on a regular basis, and seven to eight hours for those 65+ years.  Consistent bed and wake up times are also key. 

According to the research, adults following the guidelines can achieve health benefits including a lower risk of death, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, several cancers, and improved bone health. Specific to psychosocial health, participation in optimal levels of movement behaviours has been linked to improved anxiety, depression, dementia, cognition and quality of life. For adults 65+, they can also see a lower risk of falls and fall-related injuries. 

To learn more about the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults, visit csepGuidelines.ca. For ideas and resources on how to get more active, visit ParticipACTION.com and download the ParticipACTION app.