Physical Activity Enhances Development

    Creating the foundations in primary school -

Physical activity in primary school aged children (5-12) is declining. This is a major cause for alarm. Obesity levels in children are increasing. Academic performance is decreasing. Current data concludes that 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese.

How are these key factors related?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that 80% of children aged 5-17 years do not meet the recommendations for daily physical activity. These are alarming numbers for the future health of Australians. Whilst many may consider this a big picture problem that requires policy changes the truth is the solution is actually in the individual hands of each parent.

There is significant science to confirm that physical activity enhances the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of children. There are also strong links to suggest that it improves academic performance. Why are we ignoring these facts?

Whilst there are many influences on a child’s development the most important guidance in the early years is parental. Once they reach school age the circle of influence broadens but the habits developed at home will still prevail. The key habits of physical activity and healthy eating go hand in hand to maximise future health.

Life is busy! Have you stopped to consider why we feel so busy all the time? Busy is the number 1 reason our physical activity levels across all ages are declining. Are we too busy to be healthy?

Parents want the best for their children but it is often difficult to prioritize time. In the primary school years it is essential to prioritize playtime for kids. There are so many organized activity opportunities but sometimes we forget about just running around the park, taking the dog for a walk, riding a bike or going to the pool for fun. These are the stress relievers and fun activities that kids can enjoy with parents and friends.

They also provide a relaxing environment that promotes communication. Kids love to chat, with each other and parents when given the opportunity. As parents we can never be too busy to listen.

Picture this. Before school it's about hurry up, eat your breakfast, get dressed, pack your bag and off to school. The school day is busy, there’s lots to learn. After school it’s off to basketball practice and when you get home it’s time for homework and preparing dinner. Probably some tv or other screen time. Then it’s off to bed. No wonder kids and parents are stressed!

In the primary years (5-12) if we can make some simple changes to reduce scheduling and increase time to be actively free we can improve the future health for our kids. Lets not burden them with too many time demands, being a kid is about having fun. We want them to enjoy running, swimming, jumping, throwing and just being active! If we can instill a love of physical activity in this age group we will have a better chance of enhancing their future health with less stress and better communication skills.