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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. Patricia Longmuir

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Mark S. Tremblay

    Senior Scientist and Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity, CHEO Research Institute

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