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Health Matters

Combating Inactivity - Exercising Children’s Minds and Bodies Instead of Nintendo Thumbs

October 29th, 2011

By: Erin McCarty

As temperatures drop and television screens lure kids onto big, comfy couches, it may be more difficult than usual to get them excited about exercise.

The pool is the perfect place to hide out from the snow, and what better time to introduce them to a new activity that will get them moving and teach them new skills while they stay warm.

A Statistics Canada study examining physical activity of Canadian children and youth found that boys and girls’ total daily sedentary time averages a troubling 8.6 hours, or 62 per cent of their waking hours (Canadian Health Measures Survey, 2007-09). 

The National Consultation on Physical Activity Guidelines (PHAC, January 2011) recommends that children and youth ages five to 17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day. As well, the report recommends that “vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated at least three days per week, and activities that strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least three days per week.”

Below is an overview of different Lifesaving Society programs that go a step further than traditional swim lessons, challenging participants in rescue and first aid scenarios, while building on swimming basics, fitness, and fostering values like teamwork and positive role-modeling. More detailed program descriptions are available at

Canadian Swim Patrol

The Canadian Swim Patrol program provides enriched training for those who are ready to go beyond learn-to-swim. The only prerequisite is the ability to swim (check with your local pool; they may set age minimums); these programs will build on the basics.

Swim Patrol's three levels – Rookie, Ranger, and Star – continue to develop participants' swim strokes and provide the skill foundation that prepares them for success in the Society's Bronze Medal awards.

Each level of the Canadian Swim Patrol program has three modules: Water Proficiency, First Aid, and Recognition & Rescue. Swim Patrollers work on content appropriate to their ability and interest.

  • Rookie Patrol: Includes skills like entries, sculling, diving, clothed-swim, timed 100-metre swim and 350-metre workout; knowing when and how to contact EMS, recognizing a swimmer in trouble.


  • Ranger Patrol: Includes building upon skills introduced in Rookie Patrol and enhancing capability in the water, stride entries, eggbeater kick; removal of a conscious victim, primary assessment and care of someone suffering from shock, non-contact rescues, 200-metre timed swim. Rescue skills involve an increased skill level in ABC first aid basics, victim recognition and non-contact rescues.


  • Star Patrol: Includes building upon skills introduced in Star Patrol, defence methods, carrying a 4.50-kg object with lifesaving kick, 300-metre timed swims and 600-metre workouts. Star Patrol is an excellent preparation for the Bronze Star award, and it demands good physical conditioning and lifesaving judgement. Front crawl, back crawl and breast stroke are further refined in this program.

Bronze Star

Bronze Star is a pre-Bronze Medallion training program and excellent preparation for success in Bronze Medallion. In Bronze Star, participants develop problem-solving and decision-making skills as individuals and in partners. They learn CPR and develop Water Smart® confidence and the lifesaving skills needed to be their own personal lifeguard. This program includes CPR-A, which teaches participants how to do CPR and choking procedures for adults and includes an introduction to the purpose of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and when to use it. There are no prerequisites for this program.

Junior Lifeguard Club

The Junior Lifeguard Club (JLC) program is for all youth between the ages of eight to 15 years, interested in active living and having serious fun. JLC members are encouraged to develop skills based on personal bests in swimming, lifesaving, fitness, knowledge, leadership and teamwork. This program provides flexible activity challenges in an energetic "club" environment, both on deck and in the pool. Friends and family members can join together even if they are of different ages and abilities. Members may also be introduced to competitive lifesaving activities. It is recommended that participants be able to complete the Lifesaving Society Swim Test: Safe entry into shallow water;  swim 25 meters without stopping or resting any style; exit the pool from deeper water; jump (foot first entry) into deep water and recover;  and tread water for 30 seconds, maintaining mouth and nose above the water at all times.

Instead of learning to fight zombies, let’s foster first aid skills children and adolescents could use in an emergency situation and instill a love for new, invigorating activities at a young age.

The Lifesaving Society, Canada’s lifeguarding experts, is a national charity working to prevent drowning and water-related injury. We save lives and prevent injury through our training programs, Water Smart® public education, water incident research, aquatic safety management, and lifesaving sport. For more information about the Lifesaving Society, visit our website at



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