Dr. Dean Kriellaars
BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
When it comes to grade school, numeracy
and literacy are the first two items on the
learning to-do list. If Dr. Dean Kriellaars has
his way, physical literacy will be number three
on that list.
In fact, it's very likely that will soon be the
case at schools across Canada. The professor
at the University of Manitoba's School of
Medical Rehabilitation is working with PHE
Canada and Sport for Life to help foster physical
literacy in curricula across the country.
As part of the effort, he has developed a
series of instructional videos for teachers to
demonstrate how the basics of physical literacy
- those chiefly being running, jumping,
catching, throwing - should be taught in a
This may seem elementary - something
all kids should acquire naturally - but it's
increasingly not the case. And that's bad news
for young children.
Studies have found that inactivity increases
the risk of developing many life-threatening
illnesses later in life, including cardiovascular
disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. "Forty-two
different diseases are related to a lack of
physical activity," says Kriellaars.
Studies have also demonstrated that adequate
exercise can dramatically reduce the risk
of many diseases. That's 60 minutes of moderate
to difficult physical exercise a day for kids
and 150 minutes every week for adults. "That
means you're huffing and puffing, and those
are the minimum amounts."
Kriellaars says most Canadians don't even
come close to the minimum level of exercise.
And a poor, life-long attitude toward fitness
starts early, often between Grades 3 and 6. If
children don't get in the habit of being active
before age 12, they likely won't have the basic
physical literacy tools to maintain good health
later in life, he says.
It's not just a glum prognosis for children,
it's an ill omen for our health-care system
overall. As our population ages, the health-care
system will be increasingly stretched to
Kriellaars says physical exercise is our silver
bullet of prevention. And that regular exercise
mindset has to start in the classroom because
the education system is the only framework
that can widely promote physical literacy to
maintain lifelong health. "If it can't do the job
for us, then we have no real way to reverse the
Back to "Leading the way"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave