Exercise is vital for children. As well as fighting obesity, it builds strong bones and cardiovascular fitness. It also helps reduce stress and enhances self-esteem.
Exercise in childhood helps establish a routine that could persist throughout life.
There are 2 golden rules for children:
1. Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
This should ideally be a mix of:
• Structured activity, such as swimming, soccer, netball and tennis
• ‘Incidental’ activity, such as household chores, walking to school and general play
Try to arrange a variety of activities that are fun and suit their interests and skills. If your child is not active, begin with say 30 minutes and steadily increase the time. But more is better – even up to several hours per day!
Try to include 20 minutes or more of vigorous ‘huff and puff’ activities 3-4 days per week.
Try to be a good role model and be active yourself. Make family outings more active. Go for a bushwalk or bike ride together or take the kids to the park. Involve them in family chores such as washing the car or walking the dog.
2. Children should not spend more than 2 hours a day on screen time for entertainment (e.g. computer games, TV, internet).
Be assertive. Parents have the right to turn off the TV! Here are some strategies to try:
• Remove the TV from children’s bedrooms
• Have specific no-TV times
• Avoid having TV on in the background
• Turn off the TV during meal times
• Plan which TV shows to watch in advance
• Make family rules for the TV or computer