The Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card, released last week and put together by researchers from Australian universities and endorsed by The Heart Foundation, has found 80 per cent of children aged five to 17 are not getting enough daily exercise.
The Department of Health and Ageing recently updated its guidelines for physical activity, recommending five- to 17-year-olds engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day and no more than two hours of screen time per day. The report found 80 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds look at screens for more than two hours a day.
The researchers found although 64-85 per cent of children engage in sport, this wasn’t enough daily activity.
At Mid Mountains CrossFit at Lawson, personal trainer and certified CrossFit kids trainer Brett Suttor is passionate about getting kids moving.
He runs a weekly 30-minute class for five- to 11- year-olds and twice-weekly 40-minute classes for teenagers.
He says the key to keeping kids active and healthy is encouragement and making wise food choices.
“You need to make the right choices food-wise, and provide an environment where physical activities are going to happen. Stick with it, and give them the most encouragement possible at the start,” Mr Suttor said.
He said if you broke exercise down into small amounts each day, like 10 minutes before school, 15 minutes at morning tea, and 20 minutes at lunch, then parents only had to find 15 minutes of exercise for their kids in the afternoon. This was much more manageable than looking at an hour of exercise in one sitting, he said.
In his classes, the focus is on getting kids moving and their hearts racing, and having fun at the same time.
“Children move well. As they grow up they start moving poorly and teach themselves poor habits,” Mr Suttor said. “Teens have the underlying issues with mobility.”
If kids were active from a young age and continued this into adulthood, they would be happier, healthier, fitter and more comfortable with themselves.
“Being fit and healthy makes life easier. An active child has a more active brain and is much more open and receptive to learning at school,” Mr Suttor said.
“An active kid will voluntarily do more stuff at home.”