Australian children need to get moving

AUSTRALIAN children are lagging behind their international peers in physical activity, with a disturbing new data revealing they are being beaten by countries including Mozambique, Mexico and Ghana.

The Active Healthy Kids Australia’s latest 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People has given Australian children a failing grade against 37 other countries, delivering them a D- for their exercise efforts.

Australian children performed worse in overall physical activity levels than children in countries like Columbia, Slovenia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

It is crucial parents and the wider community take steps to counter the problem as a matter of urgency.

National Walk Safely to School Day on May 19 is the perfect opportunity for families to start creating healthy new habits.

Only 19 per cent of Australian 5-17-year-olds were found to meet national physical activity guidelines, which recommend 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per day.

In Slovenia, which topped the rankings, 86 per cent of children met the same benchmark.

We have to make some fundamental changes as a nation today, and take on board the lessons of these countries or bear the negative impact on the nation’s future health and budget.

The report found Australian children’s participation in active transport options such as walking or cycling to school dropped from C to C- following the 2015 scorecard.

Finding ways to make physical activity a part of children’s regular routines is the easiest way of systemically tackling the problem.

The comparisons clearly show that kids move the most in countries where being active is a priority or an integral part of their everyday lifestyle.

All Australian families should have a conversation about Walk Safely to School Day before the day, with a view to making it a part of kids’ regular routine.

Dr Natasha Schranz,

Active Healthy Kids Australia co-chair

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