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A study of more than 10,000 Canadian children shows that only about a third have achieved an acceptable level of what’s called “physical literacy.”

Physical literacy goes beyond fitness to include the motivation, confidence and knowledge to engage in physical activities that can help them throughout life.

It also involves basic movement skills such as throwing, catching, running, kicking, and jumping.

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Dr. Mark Tremblay, senior scientist at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, says the research provides evidence that Canadian children aged eight to 12 are not meeting the standards of physical literacy.

For example, Tremblay says boys and girls across Canada have aerobic fitness levels at the 30th percentile of global norms and only 20 per cent are meeting physical activity guidelines.

The 2014 to 2017 study looked at children from 11 cities across Canada and was led by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, or CHEO.

The Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy was published Tuesday as a supplement in the journal BMC Public Health.

“We hear about increasing obesity rates in kids, falling rates of physical activity and more time spent in front of screens,” said Tremblay. “Physical literacy looks at different domains in children to give a better overall picture of children’s healthy active living and future health.

“Physically literate children are more active and healthy children, which sets them up for life.”

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