Aussie teens falling short of physical activity guidelines

According to the Cancer Council, Aussie teens are following short of the physical activity guidelines, with new data revealing that only one in six (16%) Australian secondary school children (aged 12-17 years) are meeting the physical activity recommendations.

The Cancer Council’s National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity (NaSSDA) study reveals that while very few teens are getting enough daily exercise, there is some promising news with the latest survey showing some improvements compared to the 2009-10 survey.

“Physical activity in teenage years sets up good habits for your adult years,” says Chair of Cancer Council’s National Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee, Clare Hughes.

“Being physically active reduces the risk of unhealthy weight gain and reduces the risk of developing 13 different types of cancer later in life, including endometrial, breast and bowel cancer.

“So, we really want to see as many teens as possible setting up good exercise habits while they are young.”

Pointing to the study results, Ms Hughes adds that some of the barriers to physical activity reported by teens is “lack of physical activity options in school” along with “living too far from school to walk or ride”.

Comparing differences in gender, the study reveals that boys are more than twice as likely as girls to meet physical activity guidelines (21% compared to 9%), with girls reportedly citing a number of personal barriers to participating in physical activity, the most common being feeling self-conscious when undertaking physical activity.

“Three in four students agreed that both their school and their parents encourage them to undertake sports and physical activities,” continues Ms Hughes.

“We’re pleased to see physical activity addressed in the draft National Preventative Health Strategy and call on the Australian government to support people to be more active and to develop a national active transport strategy that will encourage walking, cycling and public transport use.

“We know how important physical activity is for overall health and wellbeing, including preventing cancers of the breast, bowel and endometrium.

“We want to ensure that there are systems and environments in place for all young Australians to develop strong physical activity habits that they can carry on, reducing the risk of health problems including cancer later in life.”

For information on the physical activity guidelines, visit: health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians

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