Get the kids outdoors for their health

DESPITE living in an age where everything seems to move at lightning pace, there's one thing the majority of us are struggling to move enough - our bodies.

With research indicating inactive children become inactive adults, new federal guidelines have recommended kids and teens exercise for at least 60 minutes a day, and limit electronic media use to no more than two hours a day.

Last week, the Federal Department of Health updated Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, emphasising the link between sedentary behaviours in childhood and increased risk of chronic disease.

CQUniversity Centre for Physical Activity Studies PhD candidate Stephanie Schoeppe said people were often surprised by the amount of time they spent sitting during the day.

"We know from national data of nine to 13 year olds, that 60% do not meet the new guidelines," she said.

"In the 1970s, 60-70% of children would participate in active travel (walking or riding a bike) to school," she said. "Recent data shows that is now only 37%."

Miss Schoeppe said for children, time spent sitting in the classroom, in front screens and inactively travelling could add up to eight to 11 hours a day on average.

"Children are spending too much time sitting or lying down during waking hours," she said. "Time spent in front of the TV or in from of the computer is a major culprit."

Miss Schoeppe said incorporating more activity into the day didn't mean enrolling them in every type of sport; it could be as simple as walking to and from school or spending time as a family outside.

"Simply being outdoors encourages activity compared to being indoors," she said.

The guidelines recommend Australian children aged 5-17 should break up long periods of sitting as often as possible and suggests a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, including muscle and bone strengthening activities as often as possible.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said the updated recommendations were important for a child's long-term health.

"Engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers," she said.