07 Nov 2017
We’re creatures of habit and if those habits have largely involved couches and televisions, they’re hard to budge.
Same with our kids. They learn from us, act like us and do as we do. If we don’t exercise, they won’t either. In this article, we’ll bring you up to speed with current kids’ exercise expectations and give you some tips on how to get your family up and active.
And don’t worry; this won’t be too painful. In fact, you might thank us for it.
Are your kids active at least 60 minutes per day? If they are, congratulations. NSW researchers found that only about 25% of state-wide kids aged 5 to 15 engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise for at least one hour per day. Which still begs the question: what are they doing the other 23?
Once upon a time when all kids had were books and bicycles, there wasn’t a lot of choice; you either stared at a wall all day or you climbed it; you either wondered how your friends were, or you walked five blocks to see them. You either did nothing or played sport. Kids spent inordinate amounts of time in this twilight zone known as ‘the outdoors’, a zone they’re now reluctant to spend any time in as the sun makes it impossible for them to see their phone screens.
So what can we do? First, we need to know the facts.
Here’s the speed dial version: exercise promotes healthy growth and development; builds bones and muscles; keeps weight in check; improves skills and flexibility; reduces stress; boosts confidence and self-esteem; and, just as importantly, exercise gets your kids out and interacting with other kids.
An hour per day is the bare minimum, three hours per day is ideal. And that’s not helping with the dishes or mowing the lawns; it’s sport-based, gym-based or energetic hobby-based exercise that becomes a fun-based habit. It’s after-school rugby, soccer, netball and cricket training and then games on weekends. It’s social basketball in a neighbourhood park or tennis at a local club.
And remember, this isn’t about turning your kids into sports stars, it’s just about getting them involved whether they’re good at it or not. If they get out there and give it a go in those formative years when their body is still trying to decide what it wants to do, they’ll be that much fitter for the experience.
Unfortunately, showing them Carmen Electra aerobics videos on the TV isn’t the answer. You have to be Carmen Electra. Or Dennis Rodman, whichever you prefer. Just get up and get active. Dance with your young kids. Go bike riding. Put a basketball hoop in your backyard. Play backyard cricket. Get them up and active by being active yourself. Then start pointing them towards regular, organized activities.
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