Physical inactivity – why we need action now

For the first time in history, the kids we are teaching today are the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents – 5 years shorter!

The report card

d-minus-school-letter-gradeEarlier this year the Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was released. Australia was awarded a D- for physical activity participation with the research finding that 80% of 5-17 year olds are not meeting the Australian physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.

The research team used an international ranking tool developed in Canada to measure against 12 grades which will be compared against 14 other countries.

Among the 12 grades assigned in the Report Card, key grades include:

D- for Overall Physical Activity Levels
B- for Organised Sport and Physical Activity Participation
D for Active Transportation (such as riding or walking to school)
D- for Sedentary Behaviours (screen time)

The science

The science is clear. Physical activity does more than create good health. It contributes to leadership, productivity and innovation. It lowers depression and crime, increases education and income levels, and generates return to businesses. It unleashes human potential, and this is what drives economies forward.

Physical inactivity on the other hand, can bankrupt economies. In 2008, physical inactivity in the US, China, India and the UK alone cost their economies $US200 billion.

The cost of physical inactivity or sedentary behaviours in Australia is equally alarming, with an estimated cost to the Australian economy of $13.8 billion in 2008. It is estimated that the cost in lost productivity due to physical inactivity equates to 1.8 working days per worker per year and it is estimated that 16,178 Australians will die prematurely each year due to physical inactivity.

The reality check

But let’s cut through the statistics and get down to what this really means … for the young people in our lives who stand to “lose” five years. The designedtomove initiative did just that and asked kids the question – what would they do with five extra years? Here’s what they said.

The challenge

When the Physical Activity Report card was released the Heart Foundation’s National Lead on Active Living, Associate Professor Trevor Shilton said the evidence can’t be ignored.

“We’re raising a generation of couch potatoes and if we don’t start to reverse this trend this will drive up health problems in the future – obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease” he said.
“We know what works. We need high quality, mandatory physical activity in our schools. We need to encourage and support our kids to stay active in everyday life – to be social and play outside, to walk and cycle in their neighbourhoods, do some household chores and limit hours of screen time.
“It requires a coordinated response – governments, communities, schools, families and individuals can all play a role, we just need to start the conversation.”
Surely our kids deserve to have those five extra years … What will you do in your school and community to ensure they get to enjoy them?

What you can do?

Peaceful Playgrounds Australia has a range of teacher friendly, ready to use programs that support teachers to increase the physical activity levels of their students while developing fundamental movement skills, learning personal and social skills and reinforcing literacy and numeracy concepts. Why not order your program today and start tackling the challenge.