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New research shows real influence of parents on physical activity

Queensland Health is calling on parents to boost their kids’ physical activity levels, with new research showing kids are more likely to be active when the family is active.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the research surveyed parents of children aged five to 17 years, and aimed to understand where children play and how often.

“The World Health Organization and the Australian Department of Health recommend that children and adolescents engage in at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily,” she said.

“The research found that children are achieving about 11 hours a week of physical activity on average, with about 8 hours occurring at school or in their free time.

“We know schools are an excellent avenue for physical activity such as lunch-time play and starting team sports, and the programs in place are contributing well to a child’s activity levels.

“But it’s also really interesting to see just how much the home environment plays a part in a child’s activity levels.

“Free time accounted for an average of 4.4 hours of physical activity per week, which clearly shows it’s an important environment where children can improve their physical activity levels.”

Dr Young said parents are a very positive influence on their children’s physical activity levels.

“With around one quarter of Queensland children overweight or obese, we, as parents, need to do everything we can to ensure that number reduces,” she said.

“The research shows that kids are more likely to be active if their families are active, which is why we’re calling on parents to encourage an active lifestyle by modelling one themselves.

“Physical activity doesn’t need to be onerous, it’s about finding what you love and doing more of it.

“That could be walking, or kicking the footy in the park, or bike rides, or backyard cricket, or even a bit of a family dance party – anything that gets you and your kids moving.

“We know time can be an issue for families when it comes to being active, so finding enjoyable ways to incorporate it into everyday tasks can make all the difference.

“Physically active children have improved cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal strength and positive psychosocial benefits. Sport and active free play also contribute to healthy physical growth, increased concentration in academic pursuits and healthy development of social skills.

“We know these physical and mental benefits continue throughout life, and those who are physically active in childhood are more likely to carry those habits into adulthood.

“So the time you invest in an active family lifestyle during childhood will make a big difference in your child living a happy and healthy lifestyle once they leave the nest.”

The ‘Where children play most’ research was today published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

ENDS

Media contact: 07 3708 5376

Last updated: 9 October 2018