New traditions: incorporate family fitness activities into your holidays

Friday 21 December 2012 —for immediate release

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.'

 

Other new traditions to start over the Christmas holidays:

  • Take the whole family on a walk around the neighbourhood or a local destination. Try walking to the park or local pool if it’s not too far away instead of driving.
  • Take the family cycling – it’s a terrific activity for all ages. Scooters, skate boards and roller blades are also fun ways to be active, but don’t forget that everyone needs to wear a helmet and suitable protective gear.
  • If the weather is warm, head to the beach or river. Swim, build a sandcastle or play in the surf. Running around in the sand all day lets you get in your exercise while you’re having fun.
  • Start a family tournament in a sport of your choice. Not great at sports? Try frisbee, kickball, darts or chasey to burn off the Christmas calories.
  • Set up croquet, badminton or bocce in your backyard. Turn on the sprinklers and lay out some tarpaulin for an instant water park on a hot summer day.
  • Pack a healthy lunch and head out into the great outdoors. Trekking is a great workout and you also have the opportunity to take advantage of Australia’s beautiful parks and open spaces.
  • Gardening is a great way to get active. Foster your family’s love of gardening with a vegie patch or herb garden.
  • Make sure the family stays hydrated during periods of activity, drink lots of water, slap on a hat and sunscreen and wear loose protective clothing.
  • Musculoskeletal problems can prevent individuals from engaging in regular activity. If you are concerned that you can’t achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate walking, a physiotherapist can create an individual program designed to meet your needs and improve your health.

* http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-active-recommend.htm
For more information, please contact:
Erik Froese
Australian Physiotherapy Association
P: (+61) 3 9092 0829 M (+61) 457 963 675
E: erik.froese@physiotherapy.asn.au

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