The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines and Psychological Distress among Adolescents


Objective: The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth recommend at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time per day, and 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for 5 to 13 years old and 8 to 10 hours per night for 14 to 17 years old. This study examined the association between meeting these guidelines and psychological distress among adolescents.

Methods: The present cross-sectional sample included 6,364 students aged 11 to 20 years from the 2017 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. This provincially representative school-based survey is based on a 2-stage cluster design. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was first conducted to confirm the factor structure of the K6, and structural equation modeling adjusted for age, sex, ethnoracial background, subjective socioeconomic status, and body mass index z-score was used to investigate the association between meeting the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines and K6 factors among adolescents.

Results: The CFA demonstrated that a 2-factor model (representing anxiety and depressive symptoms) of the K6 fit the data well. The anxiety and depression items demonstrated a composite reliability (Cronbach’s α) of 0.86 and 0.83, respectively, indicating a high level of internal consistency. Compared to meeting none of the recommendations, meeting all 3 movement behavior recommendations was associated with lower anxiety (β = -0.076; P = 0.028) and depressive symptoms (β = -0.067; P = 0.028). Meeting the screen time + sleep duration recommendations had the strongest association with anxiety (β = -0.157; P < 0.001) and depressive symptoms (β = -0.139; P < 0.001), followed by meeting the sleep duration recommendation only for both anxiety (β = -0.135; P < 0.001) and depressive symptoms (β = -0.106; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Meeting the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines was associated with lower anxiety and depressive symptoms among adolescents, and these associations appear mainly driven by meeting the sleep duration recommendation.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Gary Goldfield

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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