Four in five 11 to 17-year-olds across the world are not getting a sufficient amount of exercise, according to the World Health Organisations recent study which analyzes “global trends of insufficient physical activity among adolescents.”
The study shows a global epidemic which urges immediate action. The WHO says children’s health is in a damaging state which affects their brain development and social skills. It proved boys were more active than girls in 97% of the countries studied and more than 80% of school-aged children globally do not meet the current recommendation of at least 60 minutes of physical activity.
Being active means a healthier heart and lungs, stronger bones and muscles, better mental health, general well-being and a lower weight range and, although the study findings are based on adolescent children, kids of all ages should follow the same guidelines. Creating habits as young as possible will be beneficial now and in the future.
The WHO recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day of moderate to vigorous exercise – anything which gets the heart beating and your breath is shortened. Including the following;
- Jump rope
- Indoor playground
Since the study, there has been a lot of focus on how we ended up in such a dire situation. For one, we know that the invitation of technology in multiple forms such as tablets, phones and computers has had a significant impact on kids getting outside to play. Young people in this age bracket are more pressured to work harder, study more and plan for the future. Because of this they are sitting for extended periods of time completing study and using devices. Not only that but the modern world has seen busier roads and smaller backyards resulting in children unable to ride bikes, walk to school or play outside.
How can we change the stats?
Be a role model:
Children are easily influenced, especially by the adults around them and are more likely to want to take part if seeing others enjoying it.
Kids love playing with their parents and older siblings so encourage activities which the whole family can take part in such as a family hike, having a game of basketball or a bike ride together.
Introducing an active lifestyle should begin as early as possible. These healthy habits will be beneficial to children going into adulthood.
Toys which kids can use in active play such as balls, skipping ropes, bikes and other active toys.
Make time for exercise:
Families have busy schedules with parents working and kids extracurricular activities but it’s important to set aside time for exercise. It could include jumping on the trampoline while breakfast is being prepared or kicking a ball outside before a music lesson.
Playing a contact sport like football may not be suitable for children under 5, riding a scooter, bike or swimming would be a better, more suited option. Older children have more strength and flexibility so team sports, running and athletics will get them moving.
Find something they enjoy:
Children are more likely to remain interested if they consider the activity fun. Allow the time and patience to try a few options, they don’t have to be expensive such as hiking a local track or playing football with friends.
Outside the box activities:
Not all children are drawn to team sports such as football or basketball. Look for less organised activities like rock climbing, swimming or indoor playgrounds such as Chipmunks Playland & Cafe.
With all this in mind getting kids moving and into active environments is going to be beneficial for them now and in the future. Instilling good habits, making activities enjoyable and letting them understand the benefits for their social, mental, physical and cognitive skills will create the building blocks. That said, no matter what age your children are now, it’s never too late to model the behaviour you want your children to adopt or to break habits. Together we can raise great kids who will grow up to be great adults!