|The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is urging families to consider beginning new, healthy traditions during this festive season.
‘While Christmas can be a time of overindulgence for many families, the holiday break and the New Year also brings an opportunity for parents and caregivers to begin regular active play and other fitness activities with their children,’ APA President and Specialist Pediatric Physiotherapist Melissa Locke said.
Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that obesity affects 25 per cent of Australian children. Physical inactivity is a leading risk factor in obesity.
The Australian Department of Health and Aging recommends that*:
- Children and young people should participate in at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
- Children and young people should not spend more than 2 hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (eg computer games, Internet, TV), particularly during daylight hours.
‘This Christmas, why not invest in toys that encourage physical activity and promote outdoor free-play,’ Ms Locke added. ‘Screen time adds up and prevents kids from being active. Set time limits on computer games and portable game consoles. Restricting screen time will seem hard at first but if Santa has brought some active toys they’ll soon find plenty to do. Alternatively work out a bartering system where one hour console time equals three hours of physical activity time’.
‘Family behaviour plays a big role in children’s activity and fitness levels,’ Ms Locke explained. ‘Traditions involving exercise are a fun way for children to build happy memories, learn to love physical activity, and stay healthy. If you focus on fun, kids will look forward to this special family time.'