Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Fun family activities for the school holidays

School’s out on Friday and with help from Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, we have some ideas help you keep the whole family active.

Professor David Crawford, Director of C-PAN says that healthy eating and physical activity are essential for staying healthy and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

‘From our research at C-PAN we know that kids are not as active as they need to be and we want to get them outdoors enjoying the fresh air and not just being passively entertained.

‘Parents can make a difference just by implementing a few simple rules such as limiting screen time or TV and going for a walk as a family,’ he said.

 

Top tips for the whole family

  • Take the kids to a new park or playground they haven’t been to before.
  • Explore your local neighbourhood on foot, scooter or bicycle. Allow time for lots of stops along the way to investigate interesting sights, plants and animals. This is a particularly great activity for when you are away on holidays and exploring a new area.
  • Try a new sport or activity.
  • Participate in physical activity as a family – maybe a game of backyard cricket.
  • Buy ‘active’ toys and games for birthdays and Christmas.
  • Walk the dog morning and afternoon (if you don’t already).
  • Limit the amount of time you all spend using electronic media.
  • Try a no TV or no screen day each week.

You can also check out the Active April Events calendar to find events and activities taking place near you.

 Fun activities for younger children

  • Keep a range of activities around the house that children are able to choose for themselves when they need, such as books, blocks, train sets or craft activities.
  • Use a torch to explore a toy box from the inside, or dig for treasure in the backyard with old kitchen cutlery – you’d be surprised what a 3 year old considers to be treasure!
  • Play music CDs and encourage kids to dance along.
  • Create a special bag of toys and activities that your child loves and bring this bag out only at certain times to keep it novel.
  • Keep your old clothes for dress ups.

What about hot or rainy days?

It can be hard to be active on hot or wet days but don’t necessarily let the weather foil your plans. Set regular activity appointments in your calendar and stick to them. Even exercise in shorter bouts i.e. a 10 minute walk three times a day is better than nothing and all your active time adds up.

If weather extremes really threaten activity plans, there are always indoor alternatives your kids will love. Good old fashioned favourites like craft, art and cooking are great alternatives to electronic media. Young children in particular will love a table turned upside down and covered with a sheet which, with a bit of imagination, can be a cubby house, a pirate ship or a fairy haven. They’ll be entertained for hours.

Rainbow Pasta_cropNutrition for families

Promoting a healthy and balanced diet for the whole family is really important. Make meal times a family time. This means turning off the TV and enjoying each other’s company. On a warm evening, a picnic dinner on the beach or in the park will be lots of fun for everyone and a great way to spend quality time together.

Here are five nutrition tips to keep in mind:

1. Write a shopping list

Take the time to write a shopping list to take to the supermarket – include lots of fruit and veg on it and stick to it. If you choose fruit and veg that’s in season, you’ll save money too.

2. Kids can help

Involve your children in healthy, fun food preparation. Think about trying fruit skewers, vegie-loaded mini pizzas or quiches which are great for parties.

3. Increase fruit and veg

The key to getting kids to eat more fruit and veg is making it easily available and interesting. Some ideas include:

  • a platter of cantaloupe with some mint leaves or strawberries for extra colour
  • fruit skewers using watermelon, oranges, grapes or any other bite sized piece of fruit
  • carrot, celery or any other veg you enjoy served alongside a bowl of dip
  • bowls of cherry tomatoes in a range of colours.

4. Feed kids before a party

You might like to give your child a sandwich (try soft wholemeal or multigrain bread) and some fruit before they go to a party. It will give you peace of mind that they have eaten something healthy and wholesome and they will be less likely to over eat party food!

5. Drink water

Tap water is the best drink for all the family. It’s cheap, clean and healthy both for you and the environment. Try to avoid offering kids soft drinks and juices. These are some tips for making water an easy choice:

  • always keep some cold water in the fridge
  • encourage water with meals as well as in between meals
  • freeze water in water bottles to take on trips
  • add interest to water by adding mint leaves or lemon juice.

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References

Thanks to Deakin University for assisting with this story.

C-PAN logoC-PAN (Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research) is a research centre with world class expertise in both nutrition and physical activity that over the past decade has made a real difference in improving the health of all Australians. Their work in physical activity and nutrition is leading the world globally in numerous areas including research into disadvantaged communities, children’s health and healthy ageing. Learn more about C-PAN from the Deakin University website.

Last updated: November 29, 2016 at: 5:17 pm

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