Our teenagers are inactive in age of the screen

Over 90 per cent of teenagers are not getting enough physical activity, a new report has found.

The VicHealth report released on Monday revealed 92 per cent of teenagers aren’t getting an hour of physical activity each day, a recommendation set by the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines.

The average teenager in Victoria spends more than three hours a day on screens like smart phones and iPads.

Picture: Justin McManus

Picture: Justin McManus

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said teenagers often dropped out of sport because it stopped being fun and started being competitive.

“Health experts are warning that our kids could be the first generation with lower life-expectancy than their parents. Low levels of physical activity are a key driver of this change,” Ms Rechter said.

Research has found that sport participation halves at around 15-years-old.

Almost half of children under 15 play no sport at all outside of school hours during a typical week.

“Many teenagers have told us that they stopped playing sport because it stopped being fun. Other reasons include too much focus on the competition and skill level and teenagers having to juggle other commitments like their academic performance, part-time work and social lives,” Ms Rechter said. 

Headspace Ballarat mental health nurse Nathan Broome said there was a strong link between physical activity and mental health. 

“We are finding high rates of children coming in through Headspace who aren't active and that is correlating with issues around different mental illness,” Mr Broome said. 

“Stress and pressure related things (like social media, bullying etc.) has a big impact on a child’s willingness and ability to be involved in something that is enjoyable like sport. We know the biggest stand alone issue around mental health is stress.”

Headspace Ballarat is currently working to develop a program to join mental health and physical activity. 

Vic Health announced up to $6 million in new funding over three years as Growing Participation in Sport program which aims to support sport programs that are low-cost, social and less focused on winning.