Do your kids exercise enough?
Exactly how much movement do they need? Jacqui Bahr reports.
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.