Updated: Sep 15
✦ The benefits of exercise and its correlation to a healthy lifestyle are well documented.
Keep fit, stay active and you are well on the way to a better version of yourself. Exercising helps you stay fit, keeps the weight off, can help fight against disease and boosts mental health.
However, despite these facts being universal knowledge, we now live in a time where there are a myriad of alternatives that frequently don’t provide a healthier option. Time spent in front of the TV, playing games consoles or on phones and tablets has increased dramatically in recent years, particularly amongst the younger generation. Whereas parents used to order restless children to head outside to play, now it is widely common for an iPad or games console to be thrust in front of children in order to keep them occupied and quiet.
Those over the age of 40 will remember their parents having to yell for them to come in each evening whereas nowadays it is often the reverse, with parents having to encourage kids to go outside!
A recent study by the University of Georgia published in Science Daily suggests that 75% of teenagers are not getting enough exercise.
Now that may be only a cross section and thus somewhat unreliable to read as a common or consistent barometer but it still provides a worrying insight into the lack of activity among our young. The World Health Organization offers a more holistic insight into things, stating “more than a quarter of the world’s adult population (1.4 billion adults) are insufficiently active.”
The same organisation has an age-based breakdown pertaining to the recommended amount and frequency of exercise that should be taken. Those in the 5-17-year-old bracket “should do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity, across the week... at least 3 days a week... [and] should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary, particularly the amount of recreational screen time.” Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles pose a threat to children’s health, which can lead to increased adiposity (weight gain), poorer cardiometabolic health, fitness, behavioural conduct/pro-social behaviour and reduced sleep duration.
National Play Outside Day
Acknowledging this is an increasing threat, a small collective of parents in Colorado launched “National Play Outside Day” back in April 2011 with the simple objective of getting their children to do exactly that. Whereas it is still very much a US-centric phenomena, it has grown in popularity and is now gaining traction all over the world with the first Saturday of each month designated a play outside day.
Australia is renowned for its outdoor lifestyle options and penchance for sports but that shouldn’t necessarily fool people into thinking all Aussies are active. Indeed, former Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt recently highlighted The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey from 2017–18 revealed that 67% of Australian adults were overweight or obese (12.5 million people), an increase from 63.4% since 2014-15. If the current trend continues, more than 18 million Australians will be overweight or obese by 2030.
Furthermore, a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare stated that “in 2017–18, around 1 in 4 (24%) children aged 5–14 were overweight (17%) or obese (7.7%).” It is a trend that is predicted to increase which emphasises the importance of initiatives such as play outside day even more.
Locally, of course, we have the brilliant TG’s Child Care where “Playing is Learning for Life” is their mantra. TG’s offer Preschool and Long Day Care services for children from 6 weeks to 6 years across five centres in NSW and one in QLD. They are one big happy family led by a team of educators who place huge emphasis on children becoming the very best versions of themselves.
Outdoor play is a significant factor at TG’s Child Care where the youngsters are always up for a game, especially if it involves running, jumping, tunnelling, crawling and rolling!
TG’s beautiful award-winning gardens have been specially designed to be natural, nurturing, safe and secure spaces for children to play, live and learn. These exciting and dynamic spaces are where children can explore and develop their fine and gross motor skills, build curiosity, social and emotional intelligence, engage in active and passive play.
Fun and imagination are key drivers at TG’s where you’ll often see youngsters jumping into an old boat to have an adventure on the high seas with their gang of pirates, getting down close to the ground to hunt for little bugs and to see what they’re up to. If it's a warm day out there’s water play waiting where it's easy for children to pretend they’re having a nice day at the beach. The imagination of a child knows no limits, and it is not limited by their geographical space.
Getting children out and about to explore firsthand is also a key component of TG’s teaching style. At TG's Urangan, for instance, their Reconciliation Action Plan involves going on a beach kindy every fortnight, something that the children really look forward to. Getting out into nature and just smelling the sea, feeling the soft warm sand sink below their feet... it's an environment absolutely primed for learning.