A Ballarat physical education specialist is urging parents to balance popular electronic Christmas gifts for children with keeping them on the move.
Chris Jones said children were at greater risk of excessive sedentary behaviour once school and organised sporting activities broke up for the summer.
Australian Health Department guidelines state children aged five to 17 years old should tally at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise daily and use of electronic devices for entertainment should be limited to two hours daily.
Mr Jones, an Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation consultant, said only one in four children were meeting the physical standard and this dropped in holidays.
“When children are active, they’re not sitting on electronic devices,” Mr Jones said. “...Family days out can have great social and well-being benefits and can be a nice gift too, to go somewhere special.”
The guidelines aim to improve physical fitness and mental health. Mr Jones said working regular physical activity into daily routine can help set good habits and reduce the risk of health issues like cardiovascular disease, obesity and type two diabetes.
For parents and extended family looking to buy last-minute gifts for Christmas, Mr Jones said toys and equipment to keep children busy and moving could be a great incentive for boosting physical activity.
Mr Jones suggested activity trackers as a fun way for children and parents to keep track, and to be more aware, just how much they were moving. He also said active transport, like walking to visit friends, could be a handy way to add exercise.
Mr Jones said it was not about saying no to devices like iPads and DVDs, but taking care to ensure the right balance.