Children and young people need to be active at home, at school, at play during the weekends and in the community. They should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity each day.
Check out the pamphlet Be Active Every Day to learn about the different intensity levels and low cost ideas to encourage regular physical activity.
Physical activity has aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening benefits for young children:
- Aerobic activities increase their heart rate and keep them fit.
- Muscle-strengthening activities build strength in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. They improve joint function and reduce the potential for injury.
- Bone-strengthening activities can also double as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities!
We learn, grow, set and achieve goals, develop and master movement skills through sport and recreation. It is crucial we provide these important learning experiences for our children right from infancy.
Fundamental movement skills provide a foundation for many physical activities including play, games, te ao kori, kapa haka, dance, outdoor recreation and sports. They include skills like walking, running, dodging, jumping, hopping, skipping, balancing and throwing. Having these skills is an essential part of enjoyable participation and a lifelong interest in an active lifestyle.
Enjoyment and fun are key drivers for children participating in sport with performance, challenge and improvement being motivators also. Multiple sport and recreation experiences are essential.
Active transport like walking, cycling and scooting, provides an excellent opportunity for children and young people of all abilities to take part in physical activity. Nearly half of all children and young people aged 5–14 years usually use active transport to get to school.
Playing sport is a good way to encourage regular physical activity, and develop motor skills and encourage teamwork. Most schools over a variety of both social and more competitive sport opportunities. You can talk to your child’s teacher about what is available and how to get involved.
The following links are a great place to start:
You can also contact Sport Canterbury to discuss ideas or find sports clubs or activities in your local area (0800 ACTIVE or 0800 22 84 83).
Adolescents also often enjoy informal, unplanned activities such as social sport, dancing, skating, mountain biking, skateboarding, scootering and hanging out with friends. Find local opportunities with your child that are social and fun but also include some physical activity too.
Find out about physical activity and leadership programmes for rangatahi Maori from He Oranga Pounamu including taiaha, kapa haka and traditional Maori games.
Download a free book on traditional Māori Games (Taonga Takaro) - courtesy of Harko Brown (He Oranga Pounamu).
Events are another way to get children and teens active. There are lots of events especially for school aged children, teenagers or families, or categories at larger events suitable for younger competitors. Examples include:
- Children's Cross Country - a weekly hill circuit time trial at Halswell Quarry for primary school children (April to December).
- Wicked Kids' Fun Rogaines.
- Sanitarium Weet-bix Kids Tryathlon.
- NZ Home Loans XRACE.
- Kids Mara-fun at the Christchurch Marathon (June).
- Kids' Dash at the South Island Marathon (August).
- Hellers Pegasus Fun Run/Walk (October)
Find out about after-school programmes at the Christchurch YMCA, including dance, gymnastics, basketball, archery and climbing.
Find out about Christchurch YMCA holiday programmes including sports and outdoor activities. These programmes are designed to cater for different ages, genders and cultural backgrounds.
Cycling is a great family past-time and offers many benefits for children, such as:
- spending time with parents or grandparents,
- teaching them about road safety and bike handling,
- sharing experiences,
- increasing their confidence, and
- being healthier.
Children can be introduced to cycling from a young age by using child seats or trailers on a parent’s bike, tag-along bikes, tricycles, balance bikes and bikes with training wheels.
It is important to teach children the basics from the start. Get them used to riding safely by wearing a bike helmet from the start and practising in a safe area away from traffic. The official New Zealand Code for cyclists has information about the skills needed for children to cycle safely.