Frequently asked questions

More information for inquiring minds

A specific question comes up while doing one of the program’s activities? Check our FAQ section to see if it’s already been answered.

If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact us

1. Is there a link between screen time and heart disease?

Inactive screen time is linked to obesity and chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Children who spend a lot of time in front of screens are more likely to be sedentary, to eat more, and to move less, thereby expending less energy (then, they are more likely to be overweight or obese, which increases the risk of developing chronic disease in the long run).

2. Does playing active video games, such as the Wii and XBox, count as physical activity?

The Screen Smart! program considers active video games a physical activity if they are played actively for more than 15 minutes, if the participant gets hot, if their heart rate increases and if they feel like they have worked their muscles while playing. Active video games can be an occasional alternative to recreational activities when, for example, the weather is inclement.

3. What can we do to encourage a child to be more physically active?

Encourage the child to do sports with his/her family, with a friend or with a pet, while keeping it fun, for example: going to the pool, playing soccer, playing hide and seek, playing Frisbee or catch with the family dog. This will help the child develop a love of physical activity as he/she will associate physical activity with social pleasure and positive experiences (Weight Coalition).

4. What are examples of safe active transportation for children?

Over the past 30 years, we have seen fewer and fewer children walking to school while childhood obesity rates have continuously increased (Weight Coalition). Active transportation is recognized as a significant form of physical activity for our youth. By encouraging children to use safe active transportation such as walking, biking, skateboarding or rollerblading to go to school, we can help them remain active. For example, walking (for 10 minutes continuously) at a pace that causes slight shortness of breath, can go a long way in helping children reach the minimum recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day (Active Healthy Kids Canada, 2013).

5. Are there initiatives in Québec to promote physical activity in schools?

There are currently several inspiring initiatives in Québec to encourage children to be more active at school. For example, Mon école s’active pour réussir, is a program created by the Université de Sherbrooke which proposes the integration of 20 minutes of physical activity daily during school hours. The Québec Sports and Physical Activity Day is another project that gives schools the opportunity to promote and organize physical activities for their students. There is also the policy framework called Going the Healthy Route at School developed by the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport in 2007, which aims to help schools create an environment that fosters healthy lifestyle habits. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has created the Jump for Heart and On the Road to a Happy Heart programs to promote physical activity in elementary schools.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

6. What is the maximum amount of time that should be spent in front of screens?

The recommended daily maximum recreational screen time is set at less than one hour a day for children between the ages of 2 and 5 and less than two hours daily for children over 5. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, children under two years of age should not be exposed to screens at all. In addition to being linked to a sedentary lifestyle, screen time replaces physical activity, reading and social interaction which are more enriching activities. Trading 30 minutes of screen time for another fun activity has a positive impact on children’s health.

7. What constitutes beneficial physical activity (moderate to high level intensity)?

In order to present health benefits for children, physical activity must be of moderate to high intensity. Any activity a child enjoys can be considered beneficial to health. Obviously, the more the child moves, the better! Moderate intensity physical activity causes slight shortness of breath, which increases progressively as the intensity level goes up. High intensity physical activity is marked by greater shortness of breath that may make it difficult to hold a conversation. Here are some examples: walking or biking to school would be considered a moderate intensity activity whereas swimming, playing hockey or running are high intensity activities. But the objective remains to keep the child from being inactive and immobile!

8. Is it true that physical activity improves concentration?

Physical activity is beneficial to overall health in many ways. It reduces the risk of chronic disease (obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes), and improves mental health, social skills and concentration. Physical activity has a positive impact on academic success by improving concentration, the capacity to pay attention and memory (Weight Coalition).

9. Is sending a message to family or friends through electronic means considered screen time?

Screen time includes all recreational time spent in front of a screen that leads to inactivity. If children spend time reading an educational book or communicating with family or friends for less than 30 minutes, that time is not considered screen time.

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This turnkey program was adapted by The Heart and Stroke Foundation for distribution in the province of Québec. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impacts by:

  •    Preventing disease (e.g. give children and youth the best start for a long, healthy life)
  •    Saving lives (e.g. enable faster, better cardiac emergency response and treatment)
  •    Promoting recovery (e.g. enhance support for survivors, families and caregivers)