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Healthy kids need…physical activity

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Icon pin6010, AU


Happy and healthy kids need to be active. We look into why exercise is so important for our kids, with ideas to get them moving.

Not only does being active keep our children healthy and reduce their risk of obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses – it also helps them concentrate, sleep and makes them happy (after all, one of the great things about being a kid is playing!).

Being active, in conjunction with good nutrition, is so important for the health of our kids, but it is clear many are not finding this balance, when we look at research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 2011-12, around a quarter of all Australian children aged 5 to 17 years were either overweight or obese according to measured BMI (Body Mass Index).  (Source: Australian Health Survey 2011-2012).   

So how much physical activity should our kids be doing?

Recommendations from Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines include:
  • Children and young people aged 5 to 17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Their physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous intensity activity
  • On at least three days per week, children and young people should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.

It can be difficult to know how much exercise your child gets at school (they might be very active and play sport for most of lunchtime…or they might prefer to sit and chat with friends), so even though they probably do get some exercise at school, they should also be encouraged to be physically active out of school hours.

Organised sports – such as football, soccer and netball are great options, because they not only encourage physical activity but they also allow your child to be part of a team, with all the other benefits that come from socialising. However, there are also plenty of activities to get the blood pumping at home or out with the family. Why not go swimming, go for a bike ride to a local park, walk to school or the shops or encourage the kids to play chasey or backyard cricket. And, like everything with parenting, you are your child’s most important role model, so if you exercise, your child is more likely to join in.

What exercise do your kids enjoy the most?
Sw@pTip: You can work out your child’s BMI (based on their age, weight and height) with an online calculator at However, if you are concerned about your child’s weight, ask your GP or health practitioner for advice.

Sw@pTip: Teach your child some of the old-school games that got you active at school, such as hopscotch and skipping ropes.

All advice is general in nature and the BakeSw@p team recommends you seek professional advice from your doctor or health practitioner regarding any concerns relating to your child

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