Active for Life is an evidence-based resource to help better understand the challenges around children's physical activity, and inspire better practice to integrate more movement in children's daily lives.
The majority of children (around 80%) don’t get the hour of exercise crucial for good health every day. And only one in four walk or cycle to school.
Being active every day is important in childhood and can lay the foundations for a healthy and active life. While the benefits of an active lifestyle are compelling, getting children to move more and sit less is complex.
Active for Life is an evidence-based resource to help better understand the challenges around children’s physical activity, and inspire better practice to integrate more movement in children’s daily lives.
Combining Australian and international research findings, Active for Life is a valuable resource for decision makers that aims to challenge current thinking and inspire innovative approaches.
Being active as a family has never been more important.
Settings for action
Outside of the home environment, children spend the bulk of their time at school, so this presents one of the best places for encouraging activity.
- The Walking Classroom integrates physical activity into the learning environment.
- Initiatives including Ride2School (Bicycle Network), Walk to School (VicHealth) and Walk Safely to School Day (Pedestrian Council of Australia) encourage active travel to and from school.
Initiatives that engage schools, families and the wider community in physical activity include:
- Local initiatives such as Warrnambool City Council’s Healthy Moves Program and Wyndham City Council’s Active Kids Program.
- The Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart program in schools.
- Playing for Life Resource Kit and Companion Books assist with delivering programs to primary school-aged children, including cricket, circus, dance, lawn bowls, martial arts and ultimate Frisbee. (Australian Sports Commission)
- Producing a dance performance factsheet provides a useful checklist for teachers or others who are presenting a performance as part of learning experience. (AusDance)
- The School policies and guidelines that support physical activity publication provides information to guide the development of school policies. (Department of Health)
- Smart Steps: for Primary Schools provides a suite of resources to support integrating walking into the curriculum. (Victoria Walks)
- Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood resources promote key messages included in the Government’s healthy eating and physical activity guidelines. Specific resources are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childcare educators, families and carers. The resources are available in English and nine non-English languages. (Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing)
Resources that support the integration of active experiences for students include:
- Yulunga – Traditional Indigenous Games to increase understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture. (Australian Sports Commission)
- Healthy Active Classroom – resource for teachers searching for a way to encourage their students to reconsider their behaviour and attitudes to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. (Australian Institute of Sport)
Sport is an important part of the Australian culture and a great way for children to be active.
- The Future of Australian Sport presents research findings and highlights future trends that may redefine the sport sector over the next 30 years. (Australian Sports Commission)
- Market Segmentation for sport participation: Children provides key insights outlining how the sport sector can influence motivations and behaviours children have towards sport and physical activity. (Australian Sports Commission)
- The Playing for Life Resource Kit and Companion Books complement the Active After-school Communities program and are aimed at coaches or local members of the community delivering programs to primary school aged children. (Australian Sports Commission)
Within the community
Where a child lives can have a big influence on how active he or she is throughout the day.
- Cycling into the Future 2013-23 is the Victorian Government’s strategy to promote and encourage cycling. (Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure)
- The Dance with me project gets more people physically active and involved in their local community through dance. (Latrobe City Council)
- Playing Out promotes outdoor free play for children on the street and around neighbourhoods.
- Natured Kids promotes children 0-6 years and their families connect with the outdoors and nature through visiting locations and participating in activities that support nature play.
- Neat Streets uses technology to report community issues such as damage to street furniture and signage, safety concerns, graffiti and litter to relevant authorities for action.
- Integrating walking and cycling into transport design offers examples of projects that have improved transport outcomes by focusing on people, improving safety and access to local services. (Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure)
- Parks Victoria’s Junior Ranger environmental program encourages primary-aged children and their families to explore and have fun in Victoria’s parks and reserves while Ranger Roo offers great ideas to enjoy Victoria’s parks (Parks Victoria).
- The Great Aussie Camp Out promotes camping, with a focus on connecting families and communities with the outdoors. (Australian Camps Association)
- Scouts Australia provides young people aged 6 to 25 with fun and challenging opportunities to grow through adventure.
- The Gold Coast City Council’s Active and Healthy Program and Brisbane City Council’s Active Parks program offer a range of free or low cost activities providing opportunities for residents, including children, to get out and active.
- City of Darebin’s Drive With Your Heart initiative is to get people out and about in their local street so drivers are more aware of their behaviour and slow down.
- The Heart Foundation’s Space for Active Play project consulted children on the development of active play spaces, with a particular focus on 8 to 12 year olds.
- Smart Steps: for Families provides ideas and activities for families to get walking (Victoria Walks).
- Developing a Walking Strategy: A Guide for Councils outlines the issues and approaches councils need to consider to promote walking in the community. (Victoria Walks)
- Examples of local government walking maps and guides include Cardinia Shire Council’s Walk Guide, City of Whittlesea’s Walking Maps, and Wodonga's Pathways Booklet (City of Wodonga).
- Victoria Walks’ Walking Maps allow people to create or discover a range of walking maps for different purposes across Victoria.
The home environment is a crucial setting for instilling physical activity as part of a child's daily life.
- Mend 2-4 is a healthy lifestyle program for children aged 2 to 4 and their parents and carers while Mend 7-13 is for 7 to 13 year olds. (MEND)
- Playgroup Victoria’s Active Play at Playgroup workshop uses fun activities to encourage children to be active.
- The Family activity tracker provide information and motivation for families to be active.
- Glastonbury Community Health’s Communities Active in Play resources (TBC – still being finalised)
Resources for parents and families on children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour include:
- The Active Play for Children DVD which highlights the importance of physical activity to a child’s physical growth and cognitive, social and emotional development. It is a valuable and engaging tool for practitioners to promote the benefits of active play to families. (The Royal Children’s Hospital)
- Children - Getting Them Active provides information for families on physical activity for children. (Better Health Channel)
- Childcare and Children’s Health – an information sheet for parents – Physical Activity in Infancy and Childhood provides information on physical activity for children. (The Royal Children’s Hospital)
- The Raising Children Network provides information on health, including physical activity, for children of specific age groups.