With the holidays upon us, it is easy for the kids to clock up the screen hours. But there are plenty of ways to balance that out with some physical activity.
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) reported recently on a global report published by the World Health Organisation in the Lancet Child Adolescent Health that revealed some alarming statistics regarding Australian adolescents and physical activity.
In reported Australia to be one of the worst performers in the global report, ranking 140 out of 146 countries.
ESSA chief executive officer Anita Hobson-Powell suggested the results "should be a major wake-up call for governments at all levels".
"Our children are the ones who will have to live with the lasting effects of physical inactivity, and it's about time we took meaningful action," she said.
Physical activity is an important component of developing healthy children and plays a key role in any child's physical, social and mental well-being.
The report looked at trends in physical activity among 11 to 17-year-olds and found that 89 per cent of young Australians do not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day.
"This is a statistic that we should be highly concerned about and should push our leaders to develop a National Physical Activity Plan that addresses this key issue," Ms Hobson-Powell said.
"The Federal Government is currently developing a 10-year National Preventative Health Strategy and an Obesity Strategy, and we believe that physical activity needs to be more prominent in these plans."
She said with 50 per cent of adult Australians having at least one of eight common chronic conditions (cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health, arthritis, back pain, lung disease, asthma, diabetes), $467 million was being spent on health every day.
"By addressing this issue with our youth head on, we are setting up our children for a healthier future," Ms Hobson-Powell said.
"The sooner we can instil good physical activity behaviours the sooner we will reap the benefits across our society."
She said the recommendations for optimal health benefits were that children and young people aged five to 7 years should achieve the recommended balance of high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day. That includes accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.
If you are looking for ideas to keep your kids and teens moving these school holidays, here are a few suggestions that carry a cost:
- Trampoline parks. One hour here and the kids, and you, will be ready for an afternoon nap.
- Ice skating. It provides a cool option on a hot day and requires the use of many muscles.
- Ninja Parc or Climb. A school holiday program will run at Ninja Parc in Cooks Hill from January 2-28 January, with sessions running daily, morning and afternoon, for up to three hours. Tackling the obstacles can help improve coordination, fitness and strength and sessions are suitable for kids aged six to 14.
- Hit a pool. Call your local pool to see if they have any activities scheduled such as inflatable zones. Another option is booking the kids in for some intensive swimming lessons.
- Sporting clinic. There are a range of sporting clinics available through the holidays, offering full day or full week camps. Surfing lessons are another option.
Free activities include hitting the beach, going for a walk, ride or scoot along the Fernleigh Track, Bathers Way, Nobbys Breakwall or around Lake Macquarie, bushwalking through Glenrock, Mount Sugarloaf or Blackbutt, taking on a parkrun or just heading to your local park.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Across the Harbour Swim, Newcastle harbour, January 26: Choose between the 700-metre single crossing or 1.4km double crossing of the harbour.
Maximum Adventure Race, Lake Macquarie, February 15: This race is part of a national series designed to offer an introduction to adventure racing. It is done in pairs and features mountain biking, trail running and kayaking.
Coastal Ascent, Dixon Park, February 16: With 11km and 25km options, this trail running event is through Glenrock State Conservation Area with the longer course going to Dudley. There is also a kids event.
Summers Sessions Week #3
With two weeks left in 2019 and Christmas looming large, take a pre-emptive strike with this strength and cardio session. Add a warm-up and cool-down.
Set 1: 10 minutes x [run/cycle/row/walk/swim hard 20-30 seconds followed by an easy 20-30 seconds or recovery]
Set 2: 10 minutes x [20 squats, 20 lunges, 10 push-ups, 10 bent-over rows/pull-ups, 20 ab rotation with weight]
Set 3: 10 minutes x [20 mountain climbers, 10 burpees, 50-metre sprint, walk recovery]
Alternatively, make the final set the same as the first or turn it into a stretch set.
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.