We think we’re a sporty nation but new research shows fewer than one in five children are getting enough exercise.
The impact on our health has so concerned Sport Australia that it has launched a “Find Your 30” campaign where parents do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, while encouraging their children to do the recommended 60 minutes.
The Project’s Gorgi Coghlan, an ambassador for the campaign, explains how she, her husband Simon and their daughter Molly-Rose, who turns 8 on December 30, fit exercise into their day.
How can parents ensure children get more exercise?
As a mum, it’s really important for me to talk about physical activity in a positive way with my daughter. It’s not about burning calories or losing weight, it’s about understanding physical activity is an integral part of living a happy and healthy life. My husband and I make regular physical activity a lifestyle for the whole family. We walk the dogs, play a ball game in the backyard or go on a bike ride around the local park.
What can you do with a reluctant child?
It’s important to find out what they are interested in. This can be as simple as going walking around the shopping centre or dancing in the living room to their favourite song. My daughter loves horseriding and playing outdoors with her friends and we’ve just enrolled her into Little Athletics and she’s absolutely loving it. A lot of her classmates are in the program so it’s social as well. It’s important to model exercising ourselves.
Our daughter has grown up watching me ride horses, watching Simon cycle, watching both of us surf and compete in ocean swims. It’s a natural progression for her to do the same.
You’ve prioritised exercise at home. Why is it important?
Becoming a mother changed the way I approach exercise. Like anyone, I now have less spare time on my hands and can struggle to stay motivated. The hardest thing is getting started but, once I do, I’m reminded of how physical activity leads to a clearer, more focused and happier me. I want to be the best version of myself and it only takes 30 minutes a day.
What do you do in an average week?
Physical activity doesn’t have to be glamorous or costly. I bought a treadmill on sale that sits in my garage, and I try and run on that two or three times a week. I recently competed in a fun run for my friend who lost her daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and I found having a goal really helps me to stay on track. I’m also a keen gardener and pushing wheelbarrows and lifting bags of dirt is a great workout!
Is school holidays a good time to rethink family exercise?
School holidays are great for trying out new activities. It’s important to focus on fun and avoid making physical activity seem like a chore.
If your child isn’t a huge fan of sports, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy getting active. If they enjoy reading, encourage them to walk or ride their bike to the library. If they love video games, buy them a game that encourages them to get moving.