Physical Activity

Physical Activity for Youth

Physical Activity

Your youth (12-17 years) needs at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and up to several hours of light activity each day. 

  • Vigourous activities will make your youth sweat and be ‘out of breath’. Running and rollerblading are examples. 
  • Moderate activities will cause your youth to sweat a little and breathe a bit harder. Ice skating and bike riding are examples. 
  • Light activities will not make your youth sweaty or out of breath but they will still be moving. Slow walking and chores like raking leaves are examples. 

Being active for at least 60 minutes every day helps youth:

  • Improve their health
  • Do better in school
  • Grow stronger
  • Feel happier
  • Have fun with friends
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Improve their self-confidence

Help your youth plan their daily activities to include physical activity like:

  • Walking, biking, rollerblading or skateboarding to school
  • Spending time being active outdoors
  • Getting the neighbours together for a game of pick-up basketball or hockey
  • Playing a sport they enjoy
  • Doing a fitness class with a friend

Need more information about how much or what kind of physical activities are good for your youth? Check out the Canadian 24 hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.

Screen Time and Sedentary Activity

Sedentary activities involve very little movement. Screen time is a common sedentary activity. Using tablets, computers and playing videos games are examples of screen time. Your youth may use screens for schoolwork and that’s okay. Monitor their recreational screen time, screen time that’s not for school. Less is best when it comes to recreational screen use.    

How much screen time?

Limit your youth's recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day. Lower amounts of screen time is good for their health. 

Spending less time being sedentary can help your youth:

  • Do better in school
  • Improve their self-confidence
  • Improve their fitness
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Have more fun with their friends

Help your youth get more active!

  • Instead of driving or taking the bus, your youth can walk or bike places with friends.
  • Encourage your youth to plan active time after school instead of sedentary activities
  • Go for a family walk after dinner.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Public Health Nurse and other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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