Any kind of play that increases your child’s heart rate and makes them huff and puff is going to help them be healthier, both now and as adults. Kids need more of this kind of activity than we do, at least an hour a day. On top of this they need several hours a day of a variety of light physical activities. Play helps kids by:

  • growing strong bones, muscles and hearts
  • improving their cognitive skills
  • building their social skills
  • improving their coordination (and their sport skills)
  • building self-esteem and self-worth.

Tag, skateboarding, scooting, hopscotch, tree climbing and cycling are all great ways for kids to be active and independent outdoors with supervision nearby.

Tips and ideas for being active with the kids

  • Explore the neighbourhood. Walking, cycling, scooting or even taking public transport together around the neighbourhood or to and from school can greatly increase the amount of activity you get. It can also help your kids learn the skills they will need to play and travel safely on their own. Read our tips for safe active travel to school.
  • Fun programs to do with the kids. Go4Fun is a free program for kids and parents to get active, make friends, learn about healthy eating and build confidence. It can also be a great first step if you child isn’t ready to join a sports team. Find out more.

  • Use the backyard. Get the kids to take a break from screens by playing a game of cricket or soccer in the backyard with them, or handball and hopscotch in the driveway. Younger kids can help you water the garden, or you can even build a family vegie patch to teach them about healthy food.

  • Go on an adventure together: Plan an outdoor adventure with the family for this weekend. You could take a picnic to your local park or pool, or use WilderQuest to find ideas of an adventure you can take in a national park near you.

Rewards

It is easy to get into the habit of rewarding our kids with sweet foods or takeaway meals. However, it is good to remember that the habits we teach them as kids stay with them as adults.

Try giving rewards that will get kids active. Sports equipment, games or simply trying something new are great ways to reward kids. Some ideas that won’t break the budget are:

  • Plan a treasure hunt. Place household objects around the house or in the yard for a bit of outdoor fun together.
  • Buy coloured chalk to make your own games. Mark handball courts or hopscotch fields on the ground or just use them to draw. 
  • Fill water balloons and water pistols and get the kids outside for a water fight.
  • Small items like tennis balls, skipping ropes, hacky sacks, and hula-hoops can keep children entertained for hours. Keep some of these in the car so you can be spontaneous when out and about.
  • For a big reward, plan a family day trip and take the kids on an adventure.