Professional Learning

Reducing Sedentary Behaviour

These recommendations and implementation steps are intended to help educators, school administrators, policy makers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers in implementing changes that will improve the health and wellbeing of school-aged children and youth.

Educators, school administrators, policy makers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers all have a role to play in implementing changes in reducing sedentary behaviours, hence improving the health and wellbeing of school-aged children and youth. Please find the detailed recommendations and approaches for implementation below.

Recommendations to manage school-related sedentary behaviour

A healthy school day includes breaking up periods of extended sedentary behaviour with both scheduled and unscheduled movement:

  • At least once every 30 minutes for ages 5-11 years.
  • At least once every hour for ages 12-18 years. 

Incorporating different types of movement into homework whenever possible, and limiting sedentary homework to no more than 10 minutes per day, per grade level.

Regardless of the location, school-related screen time should be meaningful, mentally or physically active, and serve a specific pedagogical purpose that enhances learning compared to alternative methods.  When school-related screen time is warranted:

  • Limit time on devices, especially for students 5-11 years of age. 
  • Take a device break at least once every 30 minutes.
  • Discourage media-multitasking in the classroom and while doing homework.
  • Avoid screen-based homework within an hour of bedtime.

Replacing sedentary learning activities with movement-based learning activities and  replacing screen-based learning activities with non-screen-based learning activities, can further support students’ health and wellbeing.

How can these recommendations be implemented?

Educators, school administrators, policymakers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers can implement these recommendations using the four M’s approach:

  1. Manage sedentary behaviour.
    • In the classroom and during homework, include light activities that require movement of any body parts, and moderate to vigorous activities that require greater physical effort.
  2. Encourage Meaningful screen use.
    • Prioritize face-to-face interactions over screen use.
    • Use screens when they are the best pedagogical tool for the job and likely to enhance learning.
    • Prioritize screens for mental and physical engagement, rather than for passive viewing.
    • Turn screens off when not in use, including background TV or videos while doing school or homework.
    • Avoid screen use during meal and snack times.
    • Avoid using screens as the default method for content delivery or classroom management. 
    • Encourage students to review and self-regulate their screen use, and plan time for outdoor play and physical activity.
  3. Educators, healthcare providers, parents and caregivers should Model healthy and meaningful screen use.
  4. Monitor for signs of problematic screen use and follow-up with a physician or healthcare provider if concerns arise. Signs of problematic screen use can include:
    • Complaints about being bored or unhappy without access to technology.
    • Difficulty accepting screen time limits.
    • Screen use that interferes with school, family activities, sleep, physical activity, offline play, or face-to-face interactions.
    • Negative emotions following time spent playing video games, texting or using social media.