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The physical activity guide includes play, games, sport, work, and transportation as suggested forms of exercise.

Canadian children and teens should try to get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, according to new guidelines that lower the bar for couch potatoes.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and ParticipACTION unveiled the new recommendations Wednesday after three years of research.

The current guidelines say those aged five to 17 should achieve at least 90 minutes of physical activity a day, adults should achieve 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity and older adults 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

But a report card released two weeks ago by Active Healthy Kids Canada suggested only 12 per cent of young Canadians actually meet the current recommendation.

P.O.V.:

Physical activity: Should the guidelines be changed?

"We hope that these new findings will inspire inactive or sedentary Canadians of all ages to add more physical activity to their lives, as they will reap some health benefits at lower thresholds than originally thought," said Mark Tremblay, chair of the physical activity guidelines committee of the CSEP.

"Plus, all Canadians can achieve better health by increasing the frequency, duration, intensity and variety of their physical activity. Some is good, but more is clearly better," he added in a release.

The new recommendations include:

  • Children and youth aged five to 17: At least 60 minutes, and up to several hours, of moderate physical activity each day. For very inactive or sedentary children and youth, some health benefits can be achieved through 30 minutes of  moderate physical activity per day. The physical activity should be mostly aerobic such as brisk walking, skating or bike riding, with vigorous activities done at least three days a week. Muscle and bone strengthening activities such as skipping and jumping are recommended at least three days at week.
  • Adults aged 18 to 65: At least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity that can be achieved in bouts at least 10 minutes long. If activity is vigorous such as jogging or playing hockey, health benefits can be achieved with 90 minutes per week. Muscle and bone strengthening activities such as weight  training, jumping and playing tennis should be included two to four days per week. Flexibility activities such as stretching, martial arts and yoga are recommended four to seven days a week.
  • Adults over 65: At least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity.

The CESP hopes to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada to revise Canada's existing physical activity guidelines to reflect the new findings.