It’s no secret that most kids love movement and physical activity. Just ask any teacher fronting a class of squirming students minutes from the lunch bell!
That’s great news, because research suggests that children who adopt healthy lifestyle patterns grow into adults with healthy lifestyle patterns.
The benefits of physical activity for children go far deeper than just physical health. It also offers:
Source Better Health Channel (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/children-keeping-them-active).
According to the Australian Government’s HealthDirect initiative, even if children are active and do a lot of sport they will still benefit from sitting less.
Children already spend time sitting at school, doing their homework and reading. But add the element of electronic media, and the average time they spending sitting or lying down can increase quite dramatically.
The challenge is to strike a balance - and find more opportunities for children to move.
The Australian Government recommends that children aged 5 to 12 should spend no more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen for entertainment, including television, seated electronic games, portable electronic devices or computers.
Fast fact - About 4 out of 5 children in Australia don’t get the daily 1 hour of physical activity they need for good health. Source www.healthdirect.gov.au
The Australian Directory of School Activities, Excursions and Accommodation features a number of incursions, camps and excursions that could be the perfect fit for your student group. Here’s just a snapshot of what’s on offer.
School incursions, camps and excursions are a great way to introduce constructive physical activity and skills.
The Climb Zone features a variety of exciting aerial challenges that students can conquer singularly or in teams.
‘Our school packages are designed specifically to support school curriculum outcomes in a safe, social and physically challenging environment,’ said Elli Barlow from the Funday Entertainment Group (which includes the Climb Zone, Perth’s Outback Splash, Kerem Adventure Park and Wanneroo Botanic Gardens).
The Climb Zone aims to get kids moving for fun – not as forced exercise.
‘There’s nothing better than seeing the kids excited to experience The Climb Zone attractions and Kerem Adventure Camp activities. The physical activity helps them to feel better, think sharper… and for our campers… sleep well.’
GeckoSports specialises in fun, fitness and multi-sports for primary school students.
‘We give children the inspiration and confidence to be physically active and try their hand at playing different sports through our scientifically designed primary school aged programs,’ said Managing Director, Kim O’Donnell. The programs – including fun and fitness ‘boot camps,’ incursions, excursions and multi-sport programs - receive guidance from an advisory board of experts from the exercise medicine, sport, fitness, education and healthcare sectors.
‘With obesity rates reaching the highest rates in history and screens being the go-to activity for kids, it is more important than ever that we help educate children to get active, get outdoors; and play and interact with other kids and their family,’ said Kim.
‘We believe in making sport and fitness fun for children. We want them to learn from a young age how to create an active lifestyle to ensure they lead long healthy lives.’
Latitude is an indoor aerial ‘super-park,’ with more than an acre of physically challenging activities that teach strategy, resilience and leadership.
According to Latitude Marketing Director, Sinead Friel, the multi-dimension, multi-sensory experience captures the imagination from the get-go.
‘From the moment you walk in the door, you’re inspired to challenge yourself to try something new, reach new heights and conquer your fears. From bouncing and climbing, to wall running and tight rope walking, students have a unique opportunity to develop as individuals and grow as a team in a safe and inclusive environment.’
Importantly, the programs are flexible, so that all students can participate at their own pace and ability.
Sinead said it was important to make exercise fun for students.
‘Exercise that is fun promotes a healthy lifestyle and the feeling of belonging, acceptance and accomplishment.’
Latitude has locations in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Did you know?
According to VicHealth:
Only around one in four children walk or ride their bikes to school.
Around 80% of primary school children don’t get the recommended hour of exercise each day – a figure that rises to 92% for high school students aged 12-17 years.
One quarter of young people are overweight or obese.
How much activity should kids get?
To benefit their health, children over 5 should be physically active every day. It doesn’t have to be a structured sport – anything that gets them up and moving will do.
According to Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, children aged 5 to 12 years need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
This should include a variety of aerobic activities as well as activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
According to the World Health Organisation:
Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
Physical activity should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least 3 times per week.
Less sitting, more moving – a case study
Last year, primary schools across Victoria trialled an online program that is designed to build more movement into everyday activities in classrooms and playgrounds, as well as at home.
The program – called Transform-Us! – was offered to them free of charge, thanks to funding from VicHealth and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC).
Inside the classroom, the program includes active lessons to break up prolonged periods of sitting, with teachers asked to deliver one standing lesson each day to get students on their feet. Outside the classroom, sporting equipment is provided for use during recess and lunch and teachers set ‘active homework.’
Sitting time for students was reduced by 33-minutes a day.
Students increased their moderate to vigorous activity per day by five minutes.
Students experienced improvements in Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure measurements.
Eighty-five per cent of students experienced greater concentration after an active break.
Ninety-six per cent of teachers said they would continue with active homework strategies.
‘It’s a simple program that can improve children’s classroom behaviours, academic outcomes, physical activity and their health,’ says Professor Jo Salmon, co-director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University.