March 20 2018 Let’s get physical!

Our next article comes from Melbourne-based mother of two, Sarah Dwyer. With an extensive background in public health and health promotion, including stints at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health; Cancer Council Victoria; beyondblue; Diabetes Australia Victoria; and the Inner South Community Health Service, Sarah is passionate about improving food and physical activity environments for Australian children. Her article, Let’s get physical!, details her commitment to participating in the upcoming Premier’s Active April

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve somehow managed to entertain the kids long enough to make myself a cup of tea and open the weekend paper (a rarity, let me tell you!) After flicking through the headlines, I come across an article stating the health status of Australian kids and adults – statistics that probably won’t surprise you. Australian adults and children are experiencing high rates of overweight and obesity, [1] with current predictions suggesting that by 2025, 72% of adults will be overweight and 34% will be obese.[2] In addition, our children’s lives are becoming more and more sedentary, with 4 in 5 kids aged 5 to 17 years not meeting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day,[3] resulting in around 1 in 4 Australian children aged 2–17 years being overweight or obese[4]. This paints a very bleak picture for the future.

As parents, we generally acknowledge these facts and figures and agree they are far from ideal, but in reality, we are constantly bombarded with information about what we should and shouldn’t do to help our kids live their best lives. We live extremely busy lives and find it hard to carve out time each week to take the kids to the park to climb, swing, throw a ball around, or kick the footy. The other thing is that kids get bored very easily, meaning it’s hard to predict what will keep them entertained. Working in health promotion, I’m all for raising awareness of health issues, but in my view, it’s not enough to simply draw attention to these issues; we need to educate individuals about the practical, simple things we can do to start addressing the obesity crisis. Not only for the sake of our children, but also for ourselves.

It’s for this reason I was thrilled to discover Premier’s Active April. Put simply, the campaign encourages all Victorians to complete 30 minutes of physical activity each day throughout the month. It’s free, fun and aims to get more people active and healthy (a win-win!). Once you sign up, you can log your daily activity in the mobile or web app and chart your progress. You can also create and join teams, track your progress and explore the ‘My Local’ section to discover the events, offers and facilities in your local area. There’s also a family calendar with 30 fun activities to help your family get moving across the month. If this still sounds like too much effort, another incentive is that you receive a heap of free stuff just for participating (including 10 free passes to a participating YMCA or local government recreation facility – my favourite enticement as it equals time out for me if I visit the gym, or I can take the kids along for a swim to spend some quality time together). They also send weekly email tips on healthy eating and physical activity, arming you with the resources to help you achieve your daily health and activity goals. So this April, I’m committing to take the healthier road by signing up to the initiative. It mightn’t be the easiest journey, but it’s one I hope to achieve; getting the kids out of the house these school holidays and burning up their energy stores. I’ll let you know how we go!

For more information on Active April and to sign up, please visit: https://www.activeapril.vic.gov.au/

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2013, Australian Health Survey: Updated Results, 2011-2012 (4364.0.55.003)

[2] Obesity Australia 2014, Obesity: A national epidemic and its impact on Australia

[3] Vic Health 2018, Physical Activity Strategy 2018-2023

[4] Obesity Australia 2014, Obesity: A national epidemic and its impact on Australia

2 Comments
  • Lan Henderson
    Posted at 07:31h, 23 March

    Well said Sarah Dwyer! I’ll be doing it too!

  • Alyssa Serafim
    Posted at 10:19h, 23 March

    You’ve inspired me, Sarah! Especially as walking with the pram counts!