Physical Activity in Primary School Children

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Physical activity is crucial for a child’s development and lays the foundation for a healthy and active life. Children are becoming overweight and obese due to poor food choices and an increasing sedentary lifestyle, leading to physical, social and behavioural health issues. High calorie food and increased indoor activity, such as watching television or computer games, are fuelling this unhealthy lifestyle epidemic. Increasing physical activity in middle childhood (8-12yrs) is a crucial component in addressing and preventing this crisis, and it is believed that schools in conjunction with teachers have a large role to play in its promotion.

Research has shown that obesity has increased over the last 20 years in Australian children aged 7-16 years. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity is seen as the leading cause, (NSW Health/SPANS, 2006).

Children who are overweight or obese are likely to suffer serious social and behavioral issues (i.e. bullied and teased at school), as well as poor fitness

levels, body image issues, increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, heat intolerance, breathlessness on exertion, tiredness, flat feet and sleep problems leading to academic difficulties, (Covic et al, 2007). Several studies have also suggested that cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviours track from childhood and adolescence to adulthood, (Shilton & Naughton, 2001).

Regular physical activity in middle childhood produces a positive effect on all stages of their development. Physical exercise helps to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, improve posture, balance and flexibility, enhance coordination skills as well as develop efficient heart and lung functioning. It also benefits a child’s social skills,...

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World Health Organization, (2011). Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Physical Activity and Young People. Recommended levels of physical activity for children aged 5 - 17 years. Retrieved from
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