Most of our homes harbor more technology than ever before. Between television, computers, devices and mobile phones our kids have never been more digitally connected but less socially connected. But what effect does all this technology have on their health?
A 2012 Australian health survey showed that 60% of adults engaged in less than the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day (which has now been revised to 150-300 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week). Only one third of children, and one in 10 young people (5-17) are engaging in 60 minutes of activity per day.
It is no great secret that physical activity can have far reaching benefits, but being active as a family can have more perks than simply helping improve your health. Spending time together and being active as a family can also have emotional benefits too, especially for kids.
“Being active can help balance our moods as it involves the release of neurochemicals in the brain which are associated with happiness,” says child psychologist, Dr Sasha Lynn from the Leftfield. “Physically getting out unpleasant feelings is something that can also occur by being active. Being active with parents can provide that safe and nurturing space for kids and teens to let it all out in a more adaptive manner.”
Parents and carers play an integral role in shaping kid’s development and perception. Modeling positive behavior goes beyond how to behave, but can also help influences lifestyle choices. Leading by example and displaying positive and healthy lifestyle choices can help send clear messages that can help create life long habits.
But these positive habits aren’t just for our children, parents also get a lot out of it. Being active together can be a great way for you all to bond, particularly as children get older and traditionally withdraw somewhat from their parents.
“Being active doesn’t just benefit kids, it benefits parents too. It can help us to also balance out our mood states, reconnecting with our kids on ‘neutral territory’,” says Dr Lynn. “Adolescence can be a very tense time for kids and parents alike, and often we can feel like we’re losing our children. By being active, we can get back to that positive, and healthy connection, and to see our children in a different light, outside of ‘butting heads’.” Not only can family exercise help alleviate some head-butting in the home, it can also help your kids learn some valuable life skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and leadership skills.
With physical activity being known to also help with mental wellbeing, getting active together as a family can help give our kids the best opportunity to be well-rounded adults in the future, while improving our day-to-day life as a family now.
“Physical activity benefits us on so many levels- from regulating mood, to helping with sleep patterns, to keeping our neurochemicals firing. It can help manage stress, it can be a great source of social connection and can balance out our day-to-day lives,” tells Dr Lynn. “Doing it as a family can further strengthen our bonds, which benefits us all.”