Do your kids ex­er­cise enough?

Ex­actly how much move­ment do they need? Jac­qui Bahr re­ports.

Broome Advertiser - - Happenings -

Play­grounds are great places to visit for ac­tive play where chil­dren can run, jump, slide and climb. Melissa Li­cari

The cur­rent na­tional guide­lines rec­om­mend chil­dren aged five and up en­gage in at least 60 min­utes of mod­er­ate to vig­or­ous ac­tiv­ity per day.

But with so many screens com­pet­ing for their at­ten­tion, this can prove harder than it sounds.

Only about one-third of WA chil­dren are get­ting enough ex­er­cise — the low­est level on record, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Health and Well­be­ing of Chil­dren re­port by the WA Health De­part­ment.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics’ 2014-15 Na­tional Health Sur­vey found about one in four (27.4 per cent) Aussie kids aged 5-17 years were over­weight or obese.

The Univer­sity of WA Pae­di­atric Ex­er­cise Pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor Dr Melissa Li­cari says the alarm­ing fig­ures work hand-in-hand with the in­creas­ing time kids are spend­ing en­gag­ing in seden­tary ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Un­for­tu­nately, chil­dren of to­day are not get­ting enough phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and this pre­dom­i­nantly re­flects in­creased time per­form­ing seden­tary be­hav­iours like watch­ing tele­vi­sion or play­ing com­puter-based ac­tiv­i­ties or games,” she says.

Dr Li­cari, who heads the chil­dren’s fit­ness and re­search pro­gram along­side other spe­cial­ists, ad­vises mak­ing fit­ness a fam­ily af­fair.

“Ac­tive par­ents equal ac­tive chil­dren,” she says. “En­gage in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity with your child. Limit time do­ing (seden­tary ac­tiv­i­ties), es­pe­cially dur­ing the day when your child could be out­side en­gag­ing in ac­tive play.”

Dr Li­cari sug­gests pro­vid­ing sim­ple toys or even in­tro­duc­ing a four-legged fam­ily mem­ber at home to en­cour­age ex­er­cise.

“Par­ents of­ten feel obliged to fill their back­yards with play equip­ment but chil­dren of­ten get the most en­joy­ment out of in­ex­pen­sive items like rib­bons, bal­loons, bubbles, bean bags, hoops, empty card­board boxes and balls,” she says.

“Pets are also a great way to get the fam­ily ac­tive.”

Dr Li­cari says go­ing to parks and play­grounds also al­lows chil­dren the space to run around and test their gross mo­tor skills.

Chil­dren need to be ac­tive, while hav­ing fun.

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