Back to school: Cancer Council calls for kids to hop, skip, jump for better health

Cancer Council Queensland is calling on teachers and parents to help children avoid a sedentary slump and get active, as thousands head back to school today.

Research shows just 45 per cent of children are active for the recommended one hour a day, putting their short and long-term health at risk.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said it’s vital children get sufficient exercise every day, to offset sedentary time spent in a classroom or in front of screens.

“While some sedentary time is hard to avoid, it’s imperative that children have the time and support needed to get active and improve their health,” Ms McMillan said.

“We recommend at least one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for children aged five to 17, every day.

“Teachers can provide opportunities and encourage participation in a range of physical activities, including incidental exercise and spontaneous active games throughout the day.

“Parents can encourage exercise after school and on the weekends to ensure that recommendations are met, and role model healthy habits to their children.”

Today, Cancer Council Queensland have revealed their top five ways to keep children active as they step back into another year of school.

  • One, find new ways to increase activity. Break up the day with bursts of exercise, for example, park the car a block away from school and walk the last part with your child, or encourage them to run around and play at lunchtime.
  • Two, try out a sport or active hobby. Allow children to choose the type of activity they are interested in, or from a few options. It could be a team sport at school, such as soccer or netball, or a class like dance or martial arts after school. Also introduce basic sporting skills from a young age, such as ball throwing, skipping and jumping.
  • Three, make exercise a family activity. The entire family could go for a bike ride, take a walk around the neighbourhood before dinner, or head to a local park to shoot a few hoops or kick a ball to get children moving after a day in the classroom.
  • Four, restrict tech time. Keep screen time to less than two hours per day. If kids have spent a considerable amount of time on screens in the classroom, why not switch off at home and find new, active ways to get busy.
  • Five, model good behaviour. Children are very quick to mimic the habits of their parents and teachers so it’s important that they act as positive role models. Lace up those running shoes or hop on the bike, to show children that you regularly participate in physical activity yourself and enjoy it.

Ms McMillan said daily exercise is vital for better health and wellbeing among children, and can improve sleep, concentration and brain function.

Sedentary behaviours, including too much screen time, are linked to an increased risk of overweight and obesity, and developing a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.

In Queensland, 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese.

Cancer Council Queensland will host 10 free workshops for educators in 2018, focused on healthy lifestyles, including physical activity. To find out more, or register for the Healthy Educators’ Program in your region, visit or call 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Laura McKoy,
Media Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171