Physical activity is crucial for a child’s development and lays the foundation for a healthy and active life. Children are becoming overweight and obese due to poor food choices and an increasing sedentary lifestyle (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). High calorie food and increased indoor activity, such as watching television or computer games, are fuelling the unhealthy lifestyle epidemic in children. Physical activity in middle childhood, (8 to12 year olds), is a crucial component in addressing and preventing this crisis, and it appears that schools in conjunction with teachers have a large role to play.
Research (NSW Health/SPANS, 2006) has shown that obesity has increased over the last 20 years in Australian school children aged 7 to16 years. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity is seen as the leading cause. Children who are overweight or obese are likely to suffer serious social and behavioural issues (i.e. bullied and teased at school), as well as poor fitness levels, body image issues, increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, heat intolerance, breathlessness on exertion, tiredness, flat feet and sleep problems leading to academic difficulties (Covic, Roufeil & Dziurawiec 2007).
Several studies have also suggested that cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviours track from childhood and adolescence to adulthood (Shilton & Naughton, 2001). Regular physical activity in middle childhood produces a positive effect on all stages of their development. Physical exercise helps to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, improve posture, balance and flexibility, enhance coordination skills as well as develop efficient heart and lung functioning (McDevitt, 2010). It also benefits a child’s social skills, impr.
. .on. ISBN-13 978 0 7307 4208 1. Retrieved from http://www.det.wa.edu.au/curriculumsupport/physicalactivity/detcms/navigation/teaching-and-learning-support/fundamental-game-strategies–4-7-/?page=2&tab=Main#toc2 Western Australia. Department of Education and Training [WA DET]. (2011). Choose Active Transport. Resource Curriculum Framework: Learning Statement for Health and Physical Education. (March 2011). Retrieved from http://www.det.wa.edu.au/curriculumsupport/physicalactivity/detcms/navigation/teaching-and-learning-support/choose-active-transport–k-7-/?oid=NewsItem-id-11402352 World Health Organization [WHO]. (2011). Recommended levels of physical activity for children aged 5 – 17 years. Physical Activity and Young People. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_young_people/en/
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