The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health Supports Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play

Canada's Chief Public Health Officers/Medical Officers of Health recommend unstructured and independent active play for children and youth.

June 1, 2018 - Today, the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) released a Statement that supports and endorses the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play Footnote 1 developed by a coalition of organizations in 2015 Footnote 2, which states:

"Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks—is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature."

Children need the freedom to be active and explore their physical limits because active outdoor play has numerous social, emotional and physical benefits. Active outdoor play tests boundaries and includes things like exploring the woods, roughhousing, moving fast and climbing. Children are happier, have more energy and are less anxious when exposed to nature and the outdoors.

In addition, active outdoor play is also recognized as an important issue in the Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living in Canada: Let's Get Moving. Led by the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation, the Common Vision was recently released on May 31, 2018 and is another example of the collective momentum to address physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour for all Canadians.

"The CCMOH recognizes the importance of children's active outdoor play as children exposed to the outdoors and nature are more likely to be happier and have more energy. The evidence also demonstrates that the benefits - like increased confidence, autonomy and self-awareness - are tremendous not just in childhood but throughout life." - Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Public Health Officer in PEI and Chair of the CCMOH

"Parents and caregivers, professionals in the health, sport, education and recreation sector, community organizations, and governments can influence active outdoor play in a variety of ways. We all need to work together to make it much easier to find a balance between scheduled activities and free time during which children can engage in active outdoor play." - Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health in Nova Scotia and Co-chair of the Public Health Network Council

"Having the support and endorsement of the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health is significant and further validates the public health importance of the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. This endorsement will help to propel forward the movement to get children moving more in the great Canadian outdoors." -- Professor Mark Tremblay, Leader of the Coalition for the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play and Founding Member of Outdoor Play Canada.

Come view the CCMOH Statement. You can also view the 2015 Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play here.

About the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health

The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) is a Pan-Canadian forum for promoting excellence in population and public health practice through communication, and collaboration and exchange of ideas, knowledge, experience and best practices. Chief Medical Officers of Health have responsibility within their province or territory for the protection and promotion of the health of the public and prevention of disease and injury. The CCMOH provides a forum for Chief Medical Officers of Health to collaborate on public health topics of mutual interest. This pan-Canadian collaboration enables Chief Medical Officers of Health to advance public health practice across Canada while respecting each government’s jurisdiction.

For more information, please contact:

  • Dr. Heather Morrison, Chair, CCMOH and Chief Public Health Officer (PEI)
  • Dr. Bonnie Henry, Vice-Chair, CCMOH and Provincial Health Officer (BC): (250) 952-1887
Footnote 1

Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.participaction.com/sites/default/files/downloads/Participaction-PositionStatement-ActiveOutdoorPlay_0.pdf on August 16, 2016.

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Footnote 2

The 2015 Position Statement was developed and is supported by: Professor Susan Herrington, MLA, University of BC; Dr. Willian Pickett, Queen's University; the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit; CHEO Research Institute - Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research, Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab; Best Start by Health Nexus; KidActive - Healthy Children, Communities & Environments; Play by Nature; Child & Nature Alliance; Centre de recherche: Institut Universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec; Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education; Canadian Parks Council; ParticipACTION; Evergreen; and Physical & Health Education Canada.

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