How to get teenagers moving when they dread exercise.
According to a recent study in The Lancet* Child & Adolescent Health journal, 9 out of 10 Australian teenagers aren’t doing enough physical activity as is recommended.
To say we were shocked when faced with this news would be an understatement. We know our country as one where outdoor sports and fantastic weather reign supreme, so why are our kids lagging so far behind?
As a recent article published on ABC News reveals; our kids remain pretty active when it comes to participating in organised sport – but the data shows it’s simply not enough to meet the recommended guidelines.
*The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals.
“You might think of Aussie kids as being beach-going, cricket-and-netball-playing, super-fit youngsters, but in fact, when it comes to our teens’ physical activity levels, we rank 140th out of 146 countries.”
Taylor, ABC News, 2019
If we want to see Australia’s ranking climb into a more respectable position (and why wouldn’t we!) a lot rests on the shoulders of our schools, parents, caregivers and even politicians.
Part of the solution comes by way of facilitating an active commute, either by walking or cycling to school; or encouraging social activities that might not necessarily feel like exercise but are still promoting fundamental movement.
So what’s the solution?
We happen to know of another proven solution – outdoor ping pong. Ahem.
As anyone who has participated in a competitive or casual game knows, there’s no doubt at all that your heart is pumping hard and fast as your feet carry you to all edges of the table in rapid succession.
Ping pong in schools is regularly played casually as well – often with students holding a conversation over a friendly rally at lunchtime, recess, and even before or after school. It is this style of ping pong that exemplifies the kind of activity we need to encourage; one that is decidedly more social than competitive, yet still manages to get teens up on their feet and turning their back on a sedentary lifestyle spent behind screens.
If we can all do our part in fostering an environment that makes meeting these guidelines second nature for Australian teens – not only will they enjoy higher levels of physical activity, better health-related fitness and increased academic success – we can also rest assured that these types of active lifestyles can carry on well into adulthood – when participation in organised sports drastically drops off.
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1. Guthold, R., Stevens, G., Riley, L., and Bull, F. (2019). ‘Global trends in insufficient physical activity among adolescents: a pooled analysis of 298 population-based surveys with 1·6 million participants’, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 21 November 2019.
2. Taylor, T. (2019). ‘Teens don’t get enough exercise, so how can we support them to be more physically active?’, ABC News (Health & Wellbeing), 23 November 2019