Queensland kids falling behind the pack


ONLY half of Queensland kids are active more than once a week outside school, the third lowest rate in the country according to new data.

The latest Sport Australia AusPlay survey shows only 53 per cent of Queensland children aged 0 - 14 played sport or were physically active more than once a week outside of school hours.

This was the third lowest activity rate in the country, with only South Australia (51 per cent) and the Northern Territory (44 per cent) behind.

The survey, which tracked 20,000 Australians engagement in sport and exercise in 2018-19, showed that 81 per cent of Queensland adults were active more than once a week but only 62 per cent more than three times a week.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer said they wanted the rate of exercise to increase because of the physical, mental and social benefits of being active.

"Sport Australia's national Find Your 30 campaign encourages all Australians to get active for at least 30 minutes every day," she said.

"The recommended activity levels for children are one hour a day, so that may be 30 minutes at school and 30 minutes at home."

For Queensland 15-17 year olds, 22.2 per cent met the guidelines of 60 minutes of activity every day, a Sport Australia spokesman said.

"There have been signs of a decline in organised sport and physical activity outside school hours in Queensland, but we need to monitor this further before we can establish if it is a declining trend."

Head of Nature Play Queensland, Hyahno Moser said outdoor play which doubles as exercise is fundamental to a "full and healthy childhood" and "essential for development".

"The required activity level used to come from incidental play, when children were outside mucking around with friends, running, jumping, kicking, throwing, catching and climbing."

He said this helps children engage in "lots of high vigorous activity".

"The biggest barrier for children getting outside to play is parents, there are many reasons for that, it's complex, but parents have shut the door on the neighbourhood and kids aren't able to get out and play."

Lily, 7, and Max, 5, Dunlop playing at the park together. Picture: Peter Wallis
Lily, 7, and Max, 5, Dunlop playing at the park together. Picture: Peter Wallis

Moorooka mother Samantha Dunlop said she and her partner Steve ensured their children exercised by playing outside and joining sports like swimming and tennis outside of school.

"It's really important for kids to be active, as much as possible we send them outside to play on the trampoline, swing set, run around, do something active," she said.

"Whether or not that fits in with the busy schedule, it can be really hard, it's easier to sit them in front of the TV and give a device but obviously it's better to be outside and active.

"You prioritise your family and kids more than yourself but by getting outside with the kids it encourages us to get active as well."

Queensland Health urged the Sunshine State to get regular exercise, encouraging people to use resources on exercise, diet and wellbeing on their "Healthier.Happier website".

"We know that regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and depression," the spokesperson said.

"It improves wellbeing and helps in weight maintenance."