Tug of War for Your Child’s Health

New federal guidelines recommend kids and teens exercise for at least 60 minutes a day and limit electronic media use to no more than two hours a day.

The Federal Department of Health updated Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, emphasising the link between sedentary behaviours in childhood and increased risk of chronic disease.

The guidelines recommend Australian children aged 5 to 17 break up long periods of sitting as often as possible, minimising the use of electronic media (TV, DVDs, computer and other electronic games) to no more than two hours a day.

The guidelines also suggest a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, including muscle and bone strengthening activities on at least three days of the week.

Engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.

Helping our children create healthy, active lifestyles from a young age is imperative in improving their health for the long term.

Seize opportunities to help your kids move more – walking or riding to school, participating in organised sports like netball or soccer during the week, or scheduling a visit to the park.

It’s important to limit sedentary activities – even if children are very physically active, they may experience negative health effects from sitting for long periods each day.

Giving gifts like skipping ropes and balls is a great way to encourage active play, setting a ‘no screen time’ rule at dinner or making your child’s bedroom a TV or computer free zone may also help.

The guidelines suggest children get involved in a variety of sports and activities, and play traditional outdoor games like tag, hopscotch and tug-of-war to get moving.

The recommendations also cited that 60 minutes of physical activity could be accumulated throughout the day, and didn’t need to be scheduled all at once.

Children can start slowly if they have not been physically active for some time, and of course, they need to stay SunSmart when participating in outdoor activities.

More information about being physically active is available via cancerqld.org.au.

*Photo supplied by Kevin Luu at Stock Exchange

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