After a year of staying inside, NSW Health is encouraging families to inspire their kids to hop, skip and jump into the Christmas holiday period, and engage in healthy play.
NSW Health’s Director of Population Health Strategic Programs Megan Cobcroft said active toys – such as bat and ball sets, hula hoops, skipping ropes, push-pull-along toys, inflatable pool toys, basketballs and footballs – are fun and affordable gifts the whole family can enjoy.
“Our children have relied on devices to keep up their friendships and education this year, and that’s likely to have encouraged some unhealthy, sedentary behaviours,” Ms Cobcroft said.
“The summer holidays are an opportunity to re-engage our children in healthy, active habits to help them hit the necessary sixty minutes of heart-pumping activities at least five times a week. Visiting a local park, swimming pool or playground, or going for a bushwalk or a bike ride are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed at little or no cost.
“Parents can model and reinforce healthy behaviours for their kids by enjoying the outdoors and sporting activities as a family. And if your kids already have all the sporting kit they need, then maybe investigate courses or online tutorials, such as skateboarding or dance lessons.”
Statistics show more than one in five children are above a healthy weight in NSW, and only one in four are getting the recommended daily activity. Activity levels in NSW kids have also decreased over the past 10 years, signaling the need to get back into healthy play.
“Children who are above a healthy weight are more likely to carry excess weight into adulthood, putting them at increased risk of health problems. Being active not only supports healthy physical development but it’s also good for kids’ confidence, self-esteem, social skills and mental health,” Ms Cobcroft said.
Parents are also reminded to keep safety in mind with any active gift and to ensure their children wear the appropriate protective gear to avoid any un-fun visits to the Emergency Department.
“Make sure your child wears a helmet and elbow or knee pads while testing out their new bike, scooter or skateboard. And don’t forget sun protection when outside – cover up with a hat, shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen,” Ms Cobcroft said.
In 2020-21, NSW Health allocated $33.8 million towards healthy eating and active living initiatives to prevent overweight and obesity.
Original content from NSW Health media page. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.