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Physical activity programmes for under 5's

Sport Waikato

Physical activity for under 5’s

Healthy lifestyles are not for adults only. Children need to develop the habit of a healthy lifestyle during the preschool years. Good health habits make for healthy children, and the groundwork for many chronic deseases is laid in childhood. Parents, carers and teachers can do a lot to help children develop attitudes and behaviours that support a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness.

In 1990 Sport Waikato, realising the importance of the early years, wrote the KiwiBaby Manual. This manual is offered to every baby born within the Sport Waikato region. The manuals are distributed through a delivery network which includes Maternity Units, Independent Midwives and other Lead Maternity Carers.The manual is linked to the developmental stages from birth to age one.

Parents are asked to register and for the baby's first birthday they are sent the KiwiToddler manual (1-3 year olds) and for their third birthday, the KiwiPreschooler manual (3-5 year olds).

Each manual follows a similar format providing relevant activities linked to the developmental stages of the child. The activities are varied and include both fine and gross motor skills, infant massage techniques and safety aspects of play.

The manuals are used as a resource in Kindergartens, Childcare Centres, Playcentres, Playgroups and Kohanga Reo. Sport Waikato provide training sessions using the manuals to a variety of groups in the Greater Waikato Region.

Physical Activity - An Essential Part of a Child's Day

From the day they are born, children begin to experience and learn through movement. In these early years, it is vital they have ample opportunity to explore, experiment and practice motor activities. One out of every three young New Zealanders are not sufficiently active to be healthy.

At least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity are required every week for a healthy body. Thirty minutes on most days of the week is all it takes to maintain good health. The new message is "snacktivity" - physical exercise done frequently. These can be three "activity snacks" that add up to 30 minutes on any one day or one lot of 30 minutes.

Recent research suggests that our young people are becoming fatter, slower and stiffer. They are leading a less active lifestyle that will be detrimental to their health. When we consider that many of our children are driven to both preschool and school, it is easy to see how our lifestyles have changed.

The technology that has become common in many homes has contributed to our young folk becoming less active. Television, computers and video games all encourage inactivity. These days we have to choose to be physically active. In the past it wasn't a choice.

As parents, you are role models for your children. You are able to determine the boundaries within the home environment. The message that we need to promote is more physical activity in a society that is making it more inconvenient to be active. Children do not become unhealthy and lazy of their own accord. There are many physical activities we can share with our young children that will be rewarding for both them and us.

The activities suggested in the KiwiBaby, KiwiToddler and KiwiPreschooler manuals provide for and promote positive movement experiences. These will help with the physical and social development of under-fives and can influence a child's outlook on physical activity for life. These manuals contain activities for both parent and child to share. The activities are fun, non threatening and practice movement skills, which allow the chance to develop co-ordination skills prior to starting school. Sport Waikato

For more information, visit the Sport Waikato website: www.sportwaikato.org.nz.  Sport Waikato's mission is to foster participation and success in sport and active living - building active communities in the greater Waikato.

Sport Waikato's Goals are to:

1. Educate and encourage people to "embrace" physically active lifestyles.

2. Increase participation and achievement in sport.

3. Improve the quality of sport and active living provision at all levels.4. Provide regional leadership in sport and active living.