Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Lack of child exercise concern

A new report says Australian children are among the least active in the world, prompting concerns children across the region aren’t exercising enough.

JENNA BISHOP May 23, 2014 4:23am

Keeping active: Year 8 students Jordan Meloury-Mason and Uriah Fitzgerald-Petts have at least four weekly physical activity periods at Shepparton High School.

The inaugural Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card found 80 per cent of children between the ages of five and 17 were not getting the recommended daily 60 minutes of exercise.

The report questions whether organised sport is enough, indicating other forms of physical activity, including walking or riding to school, is declining.

Shepparton’s Aquamoves fitness instructor Kym Hanley said the key was making exercise enjoyable for children to encourage them to continue.

‘‘You can get outside with them and jump around on the trampoline or on the weekends instead of sitting in front of the television get out and go for a bush walk,’’ she said.

Mrs Hanley encouraged parents to reward children with an activity-based treat, rather than food.

‘‘If you don’t exercise and you’re sedentary, it’s no wonder we’re seeing so many people with depression and anxiety, because they’re not exercising and releasing feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and seratonin,’’ she said.

However, the report identified school as one of the main areas where children were getting involved in physical activity.

It said 71 per cent of Australian secondary school students aged 12 to 17 participated in at least 120 minutes of physical education at school a week during summer and winter terms.

St Luke’s Catholic Primary School deputy principal Chris Summers said students participated in an hour-long fitness and wellbeing program each week, in addition to an hour of fitness/sports each week.

‘‘If you include lunch and recess, they probably get about 3 hours a week. Most also do sport outside school and do incidental sports classes,’’ he said.

St Mary’s Primary School sports co-ordinator Damien Taylor said students participated in the Bluearth program as well as 15 minutes of daily fitness.

Shepparton High School’s head of physical education and outdoor education Bridget Penny said Year 7 to 9 students had at least four periods of physical activity equalling a minimum of 100 minutes each week.

‘‘In class, we’ve also discussed how parents could drop them off further away from the school and then they could walk back,’’ she said.

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