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



Physical literacy is the foundation of a physically active lifestyle. Sedentary behaviour displays deleterious associations with important health indicators in children. However, the association between sedentary behaviour and physical literacy is unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify the aspects of physical literacy that are associated with key modes of sedentary behaviour among Canadian children participating in the RBC-CAPL Learn to Play study.


A total of 8,307 children aged 8.0-12.9 years were included in the present analysis. Physical literacy was assessed using the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy, which measures four domains (Physical Competence, Daily Behaviour, Motivation and Confidence, Knowledge and Understanding). Screen-based sedentary behaviours (TV viewing, computer and video game use), non-screen sedentary behaviours (reading, doing homework, sitting and talking to friends, drawing, etc.) and total sedentary behaviour were assessed via self-report questionnaire. Linear regression models were used to determine significant (p<0.05) correlates of each mode of sedentary behaviour.


In comparison to girls, boys reported more screen time (2.7±2.0 vs 2.2±1.8 hours/day, Cohen’s d=0.29), and total sedentary behaviour (4.3±2.6 vs 3.9±2.4 hours/day, Cohen’s d=0.19), but lower non-screen-based sedentary behaviour (1.6±1.3 vs 1.7±1.3 hours/day, Cohen’s d=0.08) (all p< 0.05). Physical Competence (standardized β’s: -0.100 to -0.036, all p<0.05) and Motivation and Confidence (standardized β’s: -0.274 to -0.083, all p<0.05) were negatively associated with all modes of sedentary behaviour in fully adjusted models. Knowledge and Understanding was negatively associated with screen-based modes of sedentary behaviour (standardized β’s: -0.039 to -0.032, all p<0.05), and positively associated with non-screen sedentary behaviour (standardized β: 0.098, p<0.05). Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run score and log-transformed plank score were negatively associated with all screen-based modes of sedentary behaviour, while the Canadian Agility and Movement Skill Assessment score was negatively associated with all modes of sedentary behaviour other than TV viewing (all p<0.05).


These results highlight differences in the ways that screen and non-screen sedentary behaviours relate to physical literacy. Public health interventions should continue to target screen-based sedentary behaviours, given their potentially harmful associations with important aspects of physical literacy.

Lead Researchers

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  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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