NSW Health encouraging families to gift toys that encourage physical exercise this Christmas

Fit kids: Activity levels in children have dropped in the past decade, prompting a call from NSW Health to promote greater physical exercise initiatives.
Fit kids: Activity levels in children have dropped in the past decade, prompting a call from NSW Health to promote greater physical exercise initiatives.

After extended lockdowns and an increase in screen time, NSW Health is encouraging families to get a little creative with gifts this Christmas.

NSW Health's Director of Population Health Strategic Programs Megan Cobcroft said active toys including bat and ball sets, hula hoops, skipping ropes, push-pull-along toys, inflatable pool toys, basketballs and footballs can get kids outdoors and active again.

"Our children have relied on devices to keep up their friendships and education this year, and that's likely to have encouraged some unhealthy, sedentary behaviours," Ms Cobcroft said.

"The summer holidays are an opportunity to re-engage our children in healthy, active habits. Visiting a park, swimming pool or playground, or going for a bushwalk or a bike ride are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed at little or no cost."

Statistics reveal about one in five children are above a healthy weight in NSW, and only one in four are getting the recommended daily activity. Activity levels have also decreased in the past decade.

"Being active not only supports healthy physical development but it's also good for kids' confidence, self-esteem, social skills and mental health," Ms Cobcroft said.

In 2020-21, NSW Health allocated $33.8 million towards healthy eating and active living initiatives to prevent overweight and obesity.