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Ditch devices in favour of active outdoor family activities during the summer school holidays

Create healthy habits over summer

December 2018

Ditch devices in favour of active outdoor family activities during the summer school holidays

Ditch devices in favour of active outdoor family activities during the summer school holidays

Sydney families are being urged take steps over summer to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle by swapping screen time for the beautiful outdoors.

With the latest data revealing more than one-in-five children in NSW are overweight or obese, the summer school holidays provide an opportunity to limit sedentary activities and spend time in the backyard or exploring Sydney’s parks, playgrounds and beaches.

Parents need to create healthy habits for their children by managing their screen time and use of technology at home to avoid overuse, Karen Bedford, Acting Director of Sydney Local Health District’s Health Promotion Unit, said.

“Over summer, set a limit on the number of minutes your child can be in front of a screen each day. Whether it’s a using a mobile phone app, watching a television show, or playing computer games.

“When the daily limit is reached switch the device off and put it away. It’s best to store them out of sight.  After that, go outside and set up an active family game or activity that everyone can join in,” Ms Bedford said.

Active family activities include:

  • Playing family games of cricket, football or Frisbee in the backyard
  • Catching a wave at the beach, building sandcastles or collecting shells on the water’s edge
  • Heading to a local park to run, skip, hop and jump
  • Enjoying playing on the swings and slides at the playground
  • Riding a bike along a cycling path
  • Going on a walk around the neighbourhood or on a nature bushwalk

Parents should not only consider organising these types of simple family outdoor activities, but lead by example and participate in the activities too, Ms Bedford said.

“Mobile devices are so prevalent. Technology is great but I’d like everyone to consider putting their devices down for a period and to get out and about and enjoy the summer weather,” she said.

There are national recommendations – designed to inform parents – about the amount of physical activity and sedentary activities children of different ages (and adults) should participate in every day.

The Federal Government’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend babies under one year of age are active several times a day and don’t have any sedentary screen time.

It’s recommended toddlers and pre-schoolers do at least three hours of physical activity each day and have no more than one hour of screen time.

For primary school age children, the amount of physical activity recommended is at least one hour a day and the use of electronic media should be limited to no more than two hours a day.

And, for young people aged 13 to 17, it’s recommended they do at least one hour of physical activity daily and limit screen time to no more than two hours a day.

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