With childhood obesity on the rise in Australia, encouraging your child to pursue a sport of interest, or to do physical activity is important. Statistics say that 1 in 4 children in our country are overweight or obese.
I feel very fortunate that my own children seem to have inherited my zest for all things physical – they cannot get enough of sporting activities. And with three children, mums taxi is one busy service let me tell you! I must admit, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is so much to be gained from children participating in regular sports programs. Luckily, there seems to be no shortage of variety to choose from in Australia.
There are plenty of sports programs that operate on a national or state level including Auskick (football), In 2 Cricket (junior cricket program), Hot Shotz tennis, Little Athletics, Swimming programs (via Austswim accredited instructors), Aussie Hoops (basketball), Net Set Go (netball), MYGolf, the Weetbix triathlon and Hookin2Hockey just to mention a few.
There will more than likely be local sports programs on offer too – keep your eyes open for dance schools, yoga sessions, soccer, rowing, badminton, squash, triathlon, cycling and BMX clubs. You may also have local businesses that run skills camps for various different sporting activities in your area.
And then simply ask your child what they would like to do. The more interested they seem in the activity, the more likely they will be to want to continue. And the benefits of sport for children will far outweigh the hectic schedule of Mum’s (or Dad’s) taxi service to all these activities!
According to the Australian Sports Commission, research suggests that exercise can help to ease some common mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. No one enjoys to be left out of the pack, or be a loner. That’s where sport provides bonding and a sense of belonging. It also challenges them to work in a group, and encourages them to think of others. Kids like to feel part of a team and with sport they can feed off the energy and enthusiasm of their team mates.
Not only this but participating in sport can help to boost self esteem, confidence, and develop problem solving skills.
There are also plenty of physical benefits. Children who play sport are developing their gross motor skills, co-ordination, strength and agility. Playing sport will help to prevent obesity, balance blood sugar levels, and build strong bones, heart, lungs and muscles. It will also improve cardiovascular ability, flexibility and aid good posture.
There is even the suggestion that physically active children tend to be more academically motivated, alert and successful. (kidshealth.org)
So how much activity do children need? According to the NSW Government’s “healthy kids” initiative “Children should participate in at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of physical activity, including activity that makes them ‘huff and puff’, each day. To help your children achieve this, they need opportunities to be active at school, after school and on weekends”.