ACTION-PACKED: Professor David Lubans of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition says kids are doing more organised sport than ever. Picture: Max Mason-HubersWhen I heard news bulletins leading on a $100 active kids rebate as “the soul”of the state budget last week my ears pricked up immediately.
According to a document written by the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2014–15, an estimated “one in fourchildren aged 5–17 were overweight or obese [Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015]”and “the main factors influencing overweight and obesity are poor diet and inadequate physical activity”.
So hearing the state government had this issue on its radar was good news.
But talking to Professor David Lubans from the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle got me thinking was it in fact a good initiative.
Professor Lubans is well-known for his work developingnutrition and physical activity strategies forschool-aged children and teenagers.
The only reports I had heard since the budgetannouncement were glowing in praise for the budget initiative.
But Professor Lubans felt the rebate “was not well thought out” and would not make a “a lick of difference” to the growing problem of inactivity in children.
One Northern NSW sporting body applauded it, saying in a statement:“Parents of school aged children will benefit from the ‘ActiveKidsRebate’, a new $100rebatefor sporting and fitness related costs announced … by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet as part of the NSW Budget, with $207 million set aside over four years from 2017-2018 for every family with children in school from early next year”.
Professor Lubans acknowledged parents may appreciate the extra cash in their pockets each year but he did not see an overall impact on kids’ activity levels as a result, mainly because “kids do organised activity like they’ve never done before”.
“In terms of the contribution of organised sport to overall activity and participation rates, it’s quite small and if anything we’ve probably seen an increase, or at least a maintenance of participation in organised sport over time,” Professor Lubans said.
“That’s not where the change has been in activity rates in Australia and really around the world.
“It’s really more about active transportation and active play, that’sreally where we’ve seen kids are less active than they have been in previous generations.
“Most kids from middle and high income families do so much organised activity these days.”
I had to agree, just based on our own household and families we knew. We are not swimming in money but we prioritise sportfor ourkids because of the health and socialisation benefits.
Wereadily fork out $45 a week for swimming lessons,around $200 each to play footballand the same for cricket and surf lifesaving combined in summer.
Yes, we will be grateful for the extradollars in our pockets each year but that’s not going to encourage us or other families I know to get their kids more active because we are already well and truly committed to organised sport.
He suggested directing the funds elsewhere, such astowardslow-income families,after school programs, into schools ora program that gets parents outside kicking the ball with their kids.
“Let’s put it towards something that’s going to have a more sustainable and ongoing impact,” he said.
“Why not for every student, give the school $100 that has to be spent towards physical activity promotion, and the school has to be accountable for how they spend it.That could go towards supporting extra professional development for teachers or equipment.
“How could we better spend $100 to have maximum impact?”
It is great the state government is thinking about getting kids more active but I agree maybe those funds could have been used betterfor a more successful outcome.
PROVEN RESEARCH: Professor Davis Lubans has had loads of successful outcomes with projects that get school kids and adolescents more physically active. Picture: Fairfax Media
Exercise tip: Bird dog adds strengthIn the build-up to the Winery Running Festival on July 16, Physio&Pilates Co’s Felicity Dan has been offering some tips on good strength exercises for running. Her tip this week is “Bird dog”, which is good forstrengthening the deep abdominals, spinal extensors, gluteals and improving proprioception.
Bird dog is good for strengthening the deep abdominals, spinal extensors and gluteals.
“Stack your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips,” Dan says.“Find a neutral position through your pelvis and spine. Lift one of your legs and the opposite arm out away from your body without losing the neutral position in your spine. Repeat on other side.”
Upcoming fitness eventsRaffertys Coastal Run, July 8, Lake Macquarie:An 11km, 22km or 35km trail run through Catherine Hill Bay andthe Munmorah State Conservation Area.www.raffertyscoastalrun南京夜网.au.
Winery Running Festival, July 16, Hunter Valley:Offering 42.2km,21.1km, 10km,6km and 2km for kids.www.wineryrun南京夜网.
Variety Spin 4 Kids, August 4, Honeysuckle:A great opportunity to get a team of colleagues, friends of family together, or take on the challenge by yourself, and ride for six hours, raising funds for disadvantaged children in our area.www.variety.org.au/nsw/event/variety-spin-4-kids.
Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. [email protected]南京夜网.au.