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Exercise crucial to children's well-being

Goodstart centres

Nearly 20 per cent of all children in Australia are not getting enough physical activity in the day, an increase from nearly 10 per cent in 2009.

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data shows 17.77 per cent of children as vulnerable on the physical health and wellbeing domain, an increase of 9.3 per cent in 2009.

Australian guidelines on children’s physical activity recommend that children aged 0-1 years of age should have some floor play each day. Those aged 1-5 years should be physically active for at least three hours per day, and those aged 5-18 years old should do at least one hour of moderate to vigorous play each day.

A moderate physical activity includes activities such as a quick walk, and vigorous physical activity includes that which gets your child huffing and puffing. This could be running or riding a bike fast.

Studies show physical activity is crucial to the development of children’s gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

In the early years, physical activity involves learning how to run, jump, hop, balance, throw and catch, and create shapes with one’s body. Games like hopscotch, climbing, balls games, yoga, community walks and excursions are just some examples which can benefit children.

Goodstart Glenorchy Centre Director Larissa Bellette said exercise should be an essential part of every child’s day.
She said the centre had used the AEDC data to collaborate with the local community fitness centre to develop a six-week program aimed at benefitting children’s health, fitness and nutrition.
“Our partnership allows us to extend our physical activity curriculum to assist children with their development of their gross motor skills, coordination and self-esteem,” Ms Bellette said.
The importance of physical activity
Children who have positive experiences with physical activity are more likely to be healthy and active in life. Evidence shows that children who are physically active benefit through:
  • enhanced social skills, including turn–taking, sharing, following rules, understanding of limits, and the ability to monitor growing strength
  • reduction in stress and anxiety
  • increased self-esteem and motivation
  • increased overall wellbeing.
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