Kids today spend half the time outside than their parents did, according to a UK National Trust survey.
Does this ring true for you? Are you struggling to motivate your children or students to be active?
Daily physical activity has been proven to be beneficial for children socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically in relation to health, growth and development, and is crucial in preventing unwanted health problems, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (sadly, their great metabolisms can’t protect them from everything).
It is recommended by The Australian Department of Health that children aged between 5 and 12 be active for at least 60 minutes a day, including both moderate and vigorous exercise. However, The Australian Health Survey revealed that only one-third of children, and one in ten young people undertook the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day. So, what is stopping kids from wanting to participate?
Reasons for children not wanting to engage in physical activity vary from feelings of shyness, embarrassment or fear of failure to feeling emotionally off balance or just tired. It could be helpful to engage them in an honest conversation to understand any hesitation.
Although some kids will jump at the chance to explore the outdoors, it's important to note that an alarming by-product of the 21st century and all the technology that comes with it, is that children are developing a preference for watching movies and playing video games instead. There are also instances in which children have developed negative feelings, as mentioned above. The big question is how to get them more involved.
The key lies in catering to each child’s varied interests. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of understanding what they’re afraid of. If it’s a dislike of competition and/or a fear of losing, non-competitive sports can allow for a fun, active environment they feel safe in.
As for children who run vigorously during their lunch break or participate in sports outside of school, they may easily achieve their daily target of 60 minutes, but for those who need a little piece of inspiration, here’s what we suggest:
If your child enjoys competitive sports, try getting them involved in a game of soccer, basketball, tennis, netball, hockey, cricket, baseball, rugby, handball, or even a scavenger hunt!
If your child prefers non-competitive sports, they might enjoy bush walking, helping out in the garden, bike riding, skateboarding, scooting, surfing, rock climbing, dancing, rope jumping, yoga, kayaking, frisbee, helping to wash the car or dog walking.
Remember, the best encouragement you can give is to lead by example. If you present a positive attitude towards outside play and physical activity in general, it’s more likely they will want to participate and better yet, make it a healthy habit for life.