FRIDAY is National Walk Safely to School Day and parents are urged to get active to set an example for kids and help turn around poor health outcomes.
The University of SA’s leading researcher, Dr Natasha Schranz, is the co-chair of Active Healthy Kids Australia and said figures show 75 per cent of children who have at least one active parent will take part in sport and physical activity outside school hours.
“Studies show that children with active parents tend to be active themselves and so it is important that parents share the role of getting the family out and about, then children respond accordingly,” Dr Schranz said.
“There’s also the added bonus of parents increasing their own health and fitness while being active with their children.”
National Walk Safely to School Day encourages primary school children and their parents to walk to school with the aim of making it part of their daily routine.
Fewer than one in five Australian children meets the national recommendation of 60 minutes of huff and puff activity every day, despite an increase in the numbers playing sport.
“People tend to forget that a child may only be participating in sport one to three times a week with training and games, and some of this time may be spent not moving. And then there are some children who don’t engage in sport at all,” Dr Schranz said.
She said children needed daily activity to reduce the risk of health conditions such as obesity and Type II diabetes.
“The evidence tells us that children who get good amounts of daily exercise also achieve greater academic success and maintain higher attention levels during class,” she added.
“But also they’re happier and more engaged socially, they enjoy being active.
“We need a shift across the whole of society that values physical activity such that it’s not just about getting the kids up and moving but actually it’s an opportunity for the whole family to be active together, be a part of their community and reap the health benefits that go along with that.”