Growing up in Australia, some things are just second nature. The beach, the sun, the footy and our kids being physically active.
During the pandemic we had no choice but to watch the Sydney Swans on screens rather than at the ground – and this was felt by our kids too. Activity levels in kids have dropped with less than a quarter of kids aged 5-14 years meeting the healthy recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Kids’ screen time also spiked by 52% over the pandemic.
Now, with life getting back to normal for most of us, it’s time to tackle these habits and keep your kids kicking goals.
What are the goals for Aussie kids?
For children and young people in Australia, the minimum physical activity recommendation is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. This could be anything from your kids being ‘slightly puffed’ to how their heart rate was thumping when Buddy kicked his 1000th goal!
The Australian government has also developed 24-hour movement guidelines to keep Aussie kids active and healthy. To keep your kid ahead of the pack, make sure they:
- Include muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 3 days per week (running, climbing, kicking the sherrin)
- Get 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep (for children 5-13 years old) and 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep (for young people 14-17 years old) – this is also for your benefit!
- Limit screen-based activity to less than 2 hours a day for entertainment (for example, television, seated electronic games and computer use)
Only 1 in 10 Aussie kids meet the guidelines for physical activity and screen time.
The game plan to being more active
Usually, when we think about exercise, our first thoughts tend to be sweating it out in a gym whilst doing endless burpees. But for our kids, physical activity is all about the fun that comes with movement, connection, exploration and games. Physical activity is meant to be fun for kids and the more fun routines parents create around movement, the more likely kids will stay healthy throughout their life.
Tips to win
Keep your kids active throughout the footy season and beyond another premiership.
- Be a good role model. Kids don’t always listen to what you say but they will often copy what you do. There’s plenty of research suggesting that when parents are having fun through movement, so are their kids.
- Keep games, fun and enjoyment at the centre of movement. As a parent or carer, your primary concern for your kids is safety, theirs is having fun. If you’re not sure where to start check out Playing for Life activities for some great resources.
- Sixty minutes of physical activity a day doesn’t have to all be in one go (even AFL has quarters). Encourage your kids to take part in incidental activities like five minutes of dancing in the lounge room before dinner, 10 minutes walking the dog around the block or a quick handball indoors for rainy days.
- Scoot, skate, ride or walk your kids to school or a Sydney Swans game. If you’re too far from the venue to make this possible, pack the scooter in the car and park a couple of blocks away. It may take an extra five minutes, but your kid’s brains will be ready to tackle anything.
- Keep movement opportunities in the front of mind. Place balls, bats and movement equipment close to the door or lounge room to inspire spontaneous movement. If dress ups create imaginative dance, that’s a huge positive outcome for your child’s physical and mental health.
Beyond the physical
The benefits of regular physical activity extend much further than what we may think. Not only do they improve cardiovascular fitness, build stronger bones and improve balance, but active kids have also been shown to concentrate better in school, get better marks, get better sleep, and are better equipped to navigate any emotional challenges life throws their way.
Goals for life
Set your kids up for success by prioritising movement and other healthy habits for long-lasting health benefits as they grow up. Who knows – it could set them up with the skills to be kicking goals for the Sydney Swans in the future.
Want to stay in the know about other kids health topics? Head to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.
If you’d like to support the incredible work of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, please visit www.schf.org.au/donate. For more information about the Sydney Swans’ partnership with Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, please visit www.schf.org.au/blog/sydney-swans-x-schf
Read more about leading a healthy lifestyle at our Wellness Hub, here.