Recreation NL supports findings in 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card

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Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador encourages kids to move more to boost brain health

Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador supports findings in the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth that links brain health with regular physical activity

Only 35 per cent of 5- to 17-year-olds and 62 per cent of 3- to 4-year-olds are getting the recommended physical activity levels for their age group, the report card found, and may be having an impact on the health of their brains – kids may be less attentive, moody and not meeting their full potential both in and out of the classroom.


“Regular physical activity, even in short bursts, can help kids’ brains on many levels,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, ParticipACTION Report Card and Director of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute’s Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO). “Kids who are more active have increased self-esteem and are generally more focused and less stressed compared to their less active peers. For example, students who exercise before a test show stronger brain function than those who don’t. Furthermore, kids with brain-based disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder or ADHD, may experience even greater improvements in learning and thinking as a result of regular physical activity.”


This year’s Report Card was released in concert for the first time with an evidence-informed Expert Statement on Physical Activity and Brain Health in Children and Youth. The Expert Statement was developed by a team of pediatric neuroscientists, exercise scientists, clinicians and practitioners. It finds that for better brain health – including cognition, brain function and mental health – all children and youth should be physically active on a regular basis.

The findings in the ParticipACTION’s Report Card align with, and supports, Recreation NL’s Find YourFit Campaign. Find Your Fit is a province wide physical activity campaign designed to get individuals motivated and moving towards healthy, active living. Through physical activity challenges, information, tools and resources, this campaign promotes the benefits of regular physical activity to help all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians move more and sit less.

“Now more than ever, we need to encourage children and youth to substitute screen time with more physical activity in order to meet the daily minimum of physical activity recommended by the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines,” says Jerry Knee, Recreation NL’s physical Activity Representative. “Physical activity plays an important role in helping children and youth learn better, solve problems more creatively, and develop healthier brains. Physical activity has also been shown to be associated with better memory. In addition, increased physical activity can help support mental health and wellness among children and youth.”


The lowest grades in this year’s Report Card are a D+ for Overall Physical Activity, D for Sedentary Behaviours and F for the 24-Hour Movement Behaviours. Despite common knowledge of the health benefits of kids moving more, turning away from screens, getting off the couch and breaking a sweat, most of them aren’t, but now they have another pressing reason to do so – for their brain health.


“In order to help support the development of strong, healthy brains we need to encourage kids to get enough daily heart-pumping physical activity,” said Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION.  “Research shows that active kids perform better in school and are generally happier. We need to be active role models and set kids up to succeed. I understand that modern life can get in the way of making the time to get active, but I encourage all families to try. And, get outdoors more because it is a powerful antidote for kids facing stress.”

Other grades assigned in the Report Card include:

  • “D” for Active Play & Leisure Activities
  • “D-” for Active Transportation
  • “B” for Organized Sport Participation
  • “C-” for Physical Education
  • “B+” for Sleep
  • “D+” for Physical Literacy
  • “D” for Physical Fitness
  • “C+” for Family & Peers
  • “B-” for School
  • “B+” for Community & Environment
  • “C+” for Government

Recommendations on how to increase opportunities for physical activity and improve kids’ brain health, including those with brain-based disabilities, can be found within the Expert Statement.


To download the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Expert Statement, or Full Report, please visit




About Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador

Recreation NL is a province wide, not for profit organization that promotes the values and benefits of recreation. In partnership with volunteers and the professional recreation community, Recreation NL has worked to improve the quality of recreation for Newfoundlaners and Labradorians for over 40 years by supporting the benefits of recreation through communication, advocacy, education and training. Recreation NL envisions a province of engaged communities where all people embrace the benefits of recreation to enhance their quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:


Jerry Knee, Physical Activity Representative Recreation NL

T: 709-651-1399




Gary Milley, Executive Director

Recreation NL

T: 709-729-3892