Kids: Proposals for a more active generation

Thursday 11 de September 11:05 am


Dra. Margo Mountjoy

View profile >>

Dra. Margo Mountjoy

Dr. Mountjoy is a sports medicine physician practicing at the Health + Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. She is the Director of Student + Resident Affairs at McMaster University Medical School and the Accreditation Lead. Her faculty position is in the Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Mountjoy works for several International Sports organizations in the field of sports medicine including the International Olympic Committee, the International Federation for aquatics (FINA), and for the World Anti-Doping Agency. She is a retired elite synchronized swimmer.

Her area of expertise is in the field of physical inactivity in sport. She led the IOC Consensus project on the Fitness & Health of Children (BJSM 2011). She is an active advocate of Exercise is Medicine through the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Academy of Sport & Exercise Medicine.

Dr. Margo Mountjoy MD, CCFP, FCFP, FACSM, Dip Sport Med.

Image Gallery

Niños: Propuestas para una generación más activa

Niños: Propuestas para una generación más activa

Niños: Propuestas para una generación más activa

Niños: Propuestas para una generación más activa


Physical activity is as important as a good nutrition for the kids to achieve a comprehensive development. For this reason, the consistent implementation of exercise in school curricula is a top priority to transmit healthy habits and, consequently, stop the advance of overweight-related diseases, stated Doctor Margo Mountjoy, investigator at the Health and Performance Center of the Guelph University, Canada, in her presentation “Kids: Proposals for a More Active Generation".

In fact, physical inactivity represents the fourth risk factor for mortality in the world, only below high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. Therefore, it is not surprising that 5.5% of deaths worldwide occur due to physical inactivity. Only in Canada a 10% decrease in physical inactivity has reduced the expenditure in health care in approximately 150 million dollars. Additionally, exercising regularly, with adequate intensity and frequency, can reduce the risks of suffering heart diseases in about 40%, diabetes, hypertension and breast cancer in about 50% and Alzheimer’s in about 33%.

The data of the World Health Organization about the impact of sedentarism in health, Mountjoy explained, has increased the concern of authorities in several countries around the world to promote exercising, and she pointed out that, for example, Sweden and South Africa have a strong physical activity program and some sports federations around the world are developing schemes to promote it.

She asserted that, before performing any physical activity program, it is convenient to evaluate the patient’s condition, and that a correct advice includes advising, recommending, agreeing and supporting, starting from an essential question: Do you exercise?

Additionally, the expert in sports and physical medicine emphasized the importance of differentiating physical inactivity from sedentarism and offered the following example: "Practicing physical activity is not going to a tennis court, but moving inside the court” and then explained further: “Sedentarism is allowing the kid to spend time sitting in front of a TV or an electronic game”.

She added that patients always have some pretext to avoid doing physical activity, but it is proven that running regularly reduces the risk of osteoarthritis, although it has to be considered which physical activities should be practiced according to the age and health conditions of each person.

Further, she explained that the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology created some guides that are given to patients with different medical conditions, and that the International Olympic Committee has also developed programs for promoting physical activity, intended to reach parents and schools to counteract the growing inactivity in youths.

“With scientific data, the IOC Medical Commission took the lead in raising awareness on the risk of sedentarism, its prevention and in encouraging governments around the world to take action. This led to a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2010 by the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization to promote physical activity”, she said.

She stated that only 30 to 40% of young people follow the existing recommendations on physical activity and that there is no awareness of the negative impact sedentarism has on the quality of life of children as they grow up. It is therefore important to improve quality of life programming our physical activity. She also explained that in some countries insecurity prevents children, for example, from walking to school, which would be a way to promote physical activity.

She stressed that a good physical development in children helps prevent injuries in sports, since it improves flexibility and bone and muscle resistance; Dr. Mountjoy further explained that it is essential to have the cooperation of governments for the construction of safe roads so that children can walk to school.

She spoke about the IOC programs intended to improve physical activity in young people and children, such as the Youth Olympic Games which provide a culture of sports through the ideals of Olympism.

She concluded talking about the need to improve the development programs for elite young athletes, to have the support of policies and programs developed by governments and sport federations.