Being active helps children thrive
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Kids of different ages vary in how they like to be active. The Active NZ Survey 2017 has given us some interesting insights into children’s preferences here in the Bay of Plenty.
Breaking down the Bay of Plenty Active NZ results
5 to 7-year-olds are very happy, and don’t exceed screen time guidelines. They prefer non-competitive sports and activities, and are less likely to do competitive sports, or be active for extra exercise, training or practice.
They are not motivated by fitness or health, by a physical challenge or to win, to be good at it, or to lose or maintain weight. They are motivated by fun.
8 to 11-year-olds are very happy, too. They are getting enough sleep and not exceeding screen time guidelines. They do a higher number of sports and activities, and think they are doing enough. They are active at school, and are more active in competitive or organised sports.
They have someone to be active with, have the equipment they need, places nearby to do what they want to do, are fit enough, say there is enough PE offered at school, and think school offers interesting activities.
12 to 14-year-olds eat fruit and vegetables, but this age group is where we start to see kids exceed screen time guidelines of two hours per day. The motivation of 12 to 14-year-olds shifts to fitness and health, yet some have the barrier of not being fit enough. They are more active at indoor facilities, and do extra exercise, training or practice without a coach.
The later teen years are where physical activity really drops off.
15 to 17-year-olds are more likely to be inactive, get less than eight hours sleep, and exceed screen time guidelines of two hours per day. They have lower weekly participation, are involved in a lower number of sports and activities and record lower happiness.
They are less active at home, at school, at indoor or outdoor facilities, and are less likely to play with family and friends or on their own. They do less non-competitive sports and activities, and less organised sport. Importantly, though, they would like to be doing more physical activity.
What motivates 15 to 17-year-olds is fitness, health, and weight loss, but some say they have no one to do it with, they’re not fit enough, and school doesn’t offer activities they are interested in. Their greatest barrier is being too busy.
Being active is proven to help with cognitive function and academic achievement, reduce anxiety and depression and develop important life skills like teamwork, self-confidence and leadership. Physical activity reduces antisocial behaviour, strengthens social networks and builds a sense of belonging.
Our teens could certainly gain from all these benefits as they transition into becoming active adults. The challenge is to keep the happiness and fun of physical activity flowing from early childhood right into the teen years so all the positives can be realised.
- Sport New Zealand, Active NZ Survey 2017 – significant differences between age groups of BOP Young People aged 5-17
- Sport New Zealand, Value of Sport 2018 – benefits of being physically active
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