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ESSA concern over falling fitness levels among Australian children
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is challenging Australian parents, sporting coaches, schools, and anyone responsible for a child’s health, to step up and take action now.
ESSA’s calls follow the 2016 release of the second Full Active Healthy Kids Australia (AKHA) Report Card on Physical Activity of Children and Young People, which assesses 12 physical activity indicators (physical activity behaviours, traits, and the settings and sources of influence, and strategies and investments, which have the potential to impact these behaviours and traits).
With Australia assigned a failing grade of a D− for Overall Physical Activity Levels, ASSA Chief Executive Anita Hobson-Powell explains “Australians, as a whole, need to be more proactive when it comes to the health of our children. On the world stage, Australian children are some of the most inactive.”
ESSA noticed a significant gap in the market when it came to resources or information for the general public and parents that highlighted the importance of exercise for children, particularly those with chronic conditions and disabilities.
Hobson-Powell comments “children should not be held back from being physically active because they have a condition, disability or injury. We know that exercise can play an important role in helping them manage their quality of life and help ease or treat their condition.”
ESSA has taken action by launching their Exercise Right for Kids campaign, which will be promoted to parents, schools, key associations and stakeholders and the media.
Introducing the campaign, Hobson-Powell states “Exercise Right for Kids has been developed to help parents, coaches, teachers, friends, family and, most importantly, children who may be living with, or at risk of, a chronic condition or injuries. We want to provide free, research driven information that will help get all of our children moving.”.
ESSA has been in contact with a range of health professionals and athletes to assist with this important campaign.
Sarah Stewart from the Australian Gliders, Australia’s women’s wheelchair basketball team, is a three time Paralympian at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and has offered their full support.
She explains “I think what ESSA is doing is really important, and I love the idea of addressing the importance of movement and exercise for kids with chronic conditions and disabilities. The power of activity, and the value of the social aspect of sport, can never be emphasised too much in my opinion!”
Elizabeth Calleja, Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), is an allied health professional also assisting with the campaign, specialising in childhood obesity and chronic disease.
Sharing her experience, Calleja comments “I’ve been working with a team of Accredited Exercise Physiologists that treat children with chronic conditions and disabilities and our main focus is to help ensure they’re leading active and healthy lives.
“Children who live with chronic conditions live complex lives. There is a huge importance for parents to work with an expert to keep their children active.”
“There is a large number of cases of children living fulfilled lives when exercise prescribed by an AEP is part of the integrated care they’re receiving, such as those children who are supported by the Children’s Hospital in Westmead, NSW. Many parents don’t realise that receiving support from an AEP is both affordable and accessible, and just like them, we want all children to live the best possible lives in this country.”
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines state that children aged between five and 12 years should be undertaking at least 60 minutes of moderate-to vigorousintensity physical activity every day.
However, the AKHA Report Card found that only a poorly 19% of young children were accumulating 60 minutes of exercise every day of the week.
Hobson-Powell concludes “we know our children aren’t exercising enough, and this report card is proof. It’s our responsibility to take control and ensure the future health of Australia’s children. I’m confident that the Exercise Right for Kids campaign is a great step in the right direction.”
Click here to access the complete Full Active Healthy Kids Australia (AKHA) Report Card on Physical Activity of Children and Young People.
Click here to access the Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines.
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