Healthier CHEO Kids

Healthier CHEO Kids is a programme of applied clinical research and patient/clinician education designed to increase the physical activity and quality of life of CHEO patients and their families. Physical activity has immediate physical and mental health benefits for all children and youth. These benefits include socialization with friends, skill development, increased strength and bone density, enhanced daily activity and improved mental health and readiness for academic learning. Physical activity during childhood and adolescence also establishes healthy lifestyle habits that decrease the risk of disease later in life, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. Dr. Pat Longmuir leads the Healthier CHEO Kids programme, working in conjunction with many CHEO clinicians and staff.

CHEO clinicians and researchers are committed to helping CHEO patients be their healthiest! We know that means much more than the medicines or treatments needed for each illness or injury. Health is about the whole person, not just the newest diagnosis. We think about physical health and mental health, and how they work together to provide each child with the highest possible quality of life.

Many scientists and clinicians at CHEO are evaluating the impact of physical activity on the health of children. Check out our Current Research page to learn more about these innovative projects.

Many children and youth who come to CHEO find it difficult to be physically active, to maintain their fitness, or to enjoy active play opportunities with their friends. CHEO patients who would like to have the support of a physical activity counsellor should ask their doctor to refer them to Healthier CHEO Kids Physical Activity Counselling services – see below.

Want to learn more about physical activity for children and youth? Check out these links!

Physical activity counselling is provided to CHEO patients upon referral from their physician. Dr. Pat Longmuir supervises the work of physical activity counselling interns from the Physical Activity and Intervention Counselling Master of Human Kinetics programme at the University of Ottawa, School of Human Kinetics. Individualized counselling sessions are available free of charge from April to August each year. Counselling can be provided to 20 to 30 patients each year, with counsellors assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Physical activity counselling services are offered to CHEO patients, either alone or with their family. The counselling services available, in both English and French, include:

  • Increasing motivation for physical activity and active play
  • Enhancing fitness or physical activity through a personal activity plan
  • Building confidence and/or skill for physical activity participation
  • Relaxation and stress management techniques
  • Positive mental attitudes and/or living skills
  • Enhanced goal setting, concentration or focus

The time and location of counselling sessions are arranged directly with each patient, and may be held at CHEO, other locations or via Skype. The number of counselling sessions will be determined by the needs and interests of each patient. For some patients, 1 or 2 sessions are all that is required. More typically, sessions occur weekly for 6 to 8 weeks.

To refer a patient for Physical Activity Counselling services, contact Dr. Pat Longmuir by email [email protected] or fax: 613-738-4800.

Healthier CHEO Kids has active research projects for the treatment of childhood illness and the prevention of future disease. Our research focused on treatment examines the benefits of physical activity and exercise on mental health and physical function. Our preventive research is supporting children’s physical literacy – their capacity to achieve and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Research Projects

  1. Criteria Used to Determine Unrestricted Return to Activity After ACL Reconstruction in Pediatric and Adolescent Patients: A Systematic Review


    Only 14 of the 27 reviewed studies reported using >1 criterion when determining RTA. Furthermore, few studies used patient-reported outcome measures or lower limb kinematics as RTA criteria, indicating that more research is needed to validate these metrics in the pediatric population.

  2. Inactive Lifestyles Among Young Children With Innocent Murmurs or Congenital Heart Disease, Regardless of Disease Severity or Treatment


    These results emphasize the need for interventions targeting the youngest children seen in cardiac clinics, regardless of diagnoses of CHD or innocent murmur.

  3. Predilection for physical activity and body mass index z-score can quickly identify children needing support for a physically active lifestyle


    Predilection for physical activity and body mass index z-score quickly identify children needing physical literacy support.

  4. Promoting physical activity in children with impairments


    Quality physical activity opportunities provide each child with desired activities in the settings of interest.

  5. Parents of Very Young Children with Congenital Heart Defects Report Good Quality of Life for Their Children and Families Regardless of Defect Severity


    Parents report a lower quality of life among girls, and lower family quality of life is associated with lower family income.

  6. The effect of high-intensity interval training on inhibitory control in adolescents hospitalized for a mental illness.


    The impact of pre-therapy HIIT to enhance focus and reduce impulsive thoughts and behaviours may improve adolescent patients’ response to mental health treatment.

  7. Relationship Between Physical Activity, Tic Severity and Quality of Life in Children with Tourette Syndrome


    Further research is needed to determine the utility of physical activity as therapy for tics.

  8. Higher screen time, lower muscular endurance and decreased agility limit the physical literacy of children with epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior.


    Programs promoting physical literacy in children with epilepsy should be encouraged, specifically interventions decreasing screen time and enhancing muscular endurance and motor skills, thereby facilitating healthier lifestyles.

  9. Associations between teacher training and measures of physical literacy among Canadian 8- to 12-year-old students


    Children taught by PE specialists were more likely than those taught by generalists to demonstrate recommended levels of motivation and confidence, and to have better movement skills, which are hypothesized to be critical prerequisites for the development of a healthy lifestyle.

  10. Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement: process and outcome


    Going forward, the impact of this initiative on the sector, and the more distal goal of increasing habitual physical activity levels, should be assessed.

  11. Physical Literacy Knowledge Questionnaire: feasibility, validity, and reliability for Canadian children aged 8 to 12 years


    Future studies of alternative item wording and responses are recommended to enhance test-retest reliability.

  12. Physical literacy levels of Canadian children aged 8-12 years: descriptive and normative results from the RBC Learn to Play-CAPL project


    These results provide the largest and most comprehensive assessment of physical literacy of Canadian children to date, providing a “state of the nation” baseline, and can be used to monitor changes and inform intervention strategies going forward.

  13. The relationship between sedentary behaviour and physical literacy in Canadian children: a cross-sectional analysis from the RBC-CAPL Learn to Play study


    These results highlight differences in the ways that screen and non-screen sedentary behaviours relate to physical literacy.

  14. A cross-sectional study exploring the relationship between age, gender, and physical measures with adequacy in and predilection for physical activity


    These findings suggest that practitioners should consider the physiological and psychological makeup of the child, and ways to enhance adequacy and predilection among children with limited cardiorespiratory fitness, in order to create the best possible environment for all children to participate in physical activity.

  15. Influence of the relative age effect on children’s scores obtained from the Canadian assessment of physical literacy


    Collectively, our results suggest that the RAE bias is mainly negligible with regard to the domain scores and overall CAPL scores in this large sample of children.

  16. Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with physical literacy in a large sample of Canadian children aged 8 to 12 years


    This study identified strong favourable associations between CRF and physical literacy and its constituent components in children aged 8–12 years.

  17. The relationship between physical literacy scores and adherence to Canadian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines


    These cross-sectional findings demonstrate important associations between physical literacy and guideline adherence for physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

  18. Associations between domains of physical literacy by weight status in 8- to 12-year-old Canadian children


    All of the domains of the CAPL correlate positively with each other regardless of weight status, with a trend for these correlation coefficients to be slightly stronger in the healthy-weight children.

  19. Refining the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy based on theory and factor analyses


    The scores from the revised and much shorter 14-indicator model of CAPL can be used to assess the four correlated domains of physical literacy and/or a higher-order aggregate physical literacy factor.

  20. Revising the motivation and confidence domain of the Canadian assessment of physical literacy


    The revised and much shorter questionnaire of 12 items that aggregate to four subscales within the domain of Motivation and Confidence is recommended for use in the CAPL-2.

  21. Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy Second Edition: a streamlined assessment of the capacity for physical activity among children 8 to 12 years of age


    Regardless of the assessment selected, scores are available to interpret the performance of each child relative to Canadian children of the same age and sex.

  22. Video Evaluation of Self-Regulation Skills in Preschool Aged Children with Developmental Delays: Can the impact of Tumbling TogetherTM be Measured?


    Research comparing Tumbling participants to children not offered the program, and examining whether the self-regulation skills improved during Tumbling participation would generalize to other settings is required.

  23. Y Kids Academy Program Increases Knowledge of Healthy Living in Young Adolescents


    These findings support the suitability of the Y Kids Academy for improving and evaluating knowledge of healthy living in young adolescents.

  24. The mental health of adolescents and pre-adolescents living with inherited arrhythmia syndromes: A systematic review of the literature


  25. Exercise Capacity and Self-Efficacy are Associated with Moderate-to-Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity in Children with Congenital Heart Disease


    Of 172 patients who were recruited, 137 (80%) had complete MVPA data and were included in the analysis.

  26. Conceptual Critique of Canada’s Physical Literacy Assessment Instruments Also Misses the Mark


  27. Canadian Agility and Movement Skill Assessment (CAMSA): Validity, objectivity, and reliability evidence for children 8-12 years of age


    The Canadian Agility and Movement Skill Assessment is a feasible measure of selected fundamental, complex and combined movement skills, which are an important building block for childhood physical literacy.

  28. New concepts in the assessment of exercise capacity among children with congenital heart disease: Looking beyond heart function and mortality


    Physically active lifestyles are important for the physical and mental health of children with congenital heart defects.


  1. Sasha Carsen

    Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  3. Patricia Longmuir

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  4. Mark S. Tremblay

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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