The benefits of being physically active are well documented. Not only does it improve our health and wellbeing but it encourages social interaction and can improve our self-esteem.
Yet only one–third of children, and one in ten young people undertake the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Along with this, 60% of Australian adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day (The Australian Health Survey 2011-12).
All this means that nearly 70% of Australian adults (i.e. almost 12 million adults) are either sedentary or have low levels of physical activity.
How can you help your child?
Well, we are not reinventing the wheel here. A few small lifestyle and mind-set changes could make a huge difference to yours and your child’s health and wellbeing.
Make it Fun
Some people see physically activity as a chore. Physical activity does not have to mean hours on the treadmill. It simply means get your body moving. So, get the whole family involved. Get out into your communities, take nature walks, use cycle tracks. Play hide and seek or just dance in your living room!
Turn off the T.V
Young people are supposed to spend less than 2 hours a day with screen based entertainment. Yet this is only the case for 1 in 3 Australians. So, turn of the tablet and get that body moving.
Play with your kid
It is important that parents play with their children. Not only does it strengthen the bond between you, but it gives you time to teach them a new skill, maybe they can show you something they learned at soccer practice. Most importantly it gives those special moments where you laugh together.
Be a Role Model
If YOU take an interest in physically activity then the chances are this will rub off on your little one. Could be as simple as sitting them on your knee while you watch the footy. Share your passion and have a kick around in the garden.
Provide Active Toys
When I was a boy I was happiest when I had a ball at my feet (still am). Give your child skipping ropes, Soccer balls and other active toys. Not only are they inexpensive, they are easy to set up and get your little ones active.
Make it Age Appropriate
Obviously, you’re not going to take your 3-year-old down the gym and start deadlifting with them!! Find activities that are suited to their age group. A local Soccer session, swimming lesson or something that has been tailored specifically towards your child’s age group. Save the ‘gains’ until they are a bit older.
Schedule in Sport
Today children can be busy with school, homework and other commitments. So, make time to get for exercise. Book them in to a sports class and encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities at school.
As I mentioned earlier we are not reinventing the wheel. However, these small changes could make a massive difference to your child’s life. You might not think that it’s matter of life or death that your child gets physically active, but in fact it is.