Getting active at Abbotsleigh
The Prefect service theme for the coming year is Mental Health Awareness with their theme being Together we are Better. This week the Prefects have reformed lunchtime activity with the revival of handball on the Senior School campus. Students have teamed up with teachers to compete in active matches of the familiar playground sport. The let’s get active competition has been led by Sport Prefect, Rose Murray, in support of promoting good mental health.
The Junior School girls also have lively playtime at recess and lunch with the scooters, handball, energetic climbing on the play equipment and other inventive activities. It is important that girls have a chance for creative play outside to actively engage with the physical environment.
In looking at research, there are many benefits to exercise including:
• Healthy growth and development
• Building strong bones and muscles
• Improving balance and develop skills
• Maintaining and developing flexibility
• Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
• Improving cardiovascular fitness
• Reducing stress and feeling more relaxed
• Improving posture
• Boosting confidence and self-esteem
• Having fun with their friends and make new ones
At Abbotsleigh we regularly look at research to inform our practice and it is clear that exercise improves cognitive function.
In one recent experiment, children who ordinarily performed poorly on attention tasks improved their accuracy when tested shortly after "moderate acute exercise" -- 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill (Drollette et al 2014).
Studies suggest that physical exercise yields short- and long-term benefits on achievement in the classroom. For instance, one experiment found that a 20-minute session of walking boosted children's subsequent performance on tests of reading, spelling, and arithmetic (Hillman et al 2009a).
Another study found that children who exercised 10-20 minutes prior to a maths test outperformed children in sedentary control group (Howie et al 2015).
And the long-term? One randomised study found that children showed improved mathematics skills after a 13-week exercise program (Davis et al 2011), and other research indicates similar benefits.
Parents are in a key position to encourage daughters to be active. Below are a few suggestions to ensure that intensive screen time is replaced with active play and good habits are formed around physical activity. Tips from Healthy Kids NSW:
• Be a good role model and have a positive attitude to being active. If your children see you enjoying physical activity and having fun, it can motivate them to participate.
• Encourage them to play in the backyard, dance to music, ride a bike or get involved in vigorous activities like running, swimming or playing sports like soccer, netball or basketball.
• Make time to be active as a family – walk to the local park, go bike riding or take the dog for a stroll.
• Encourage ‘active play’ by buying gifts that get children and teens up and moving, such as balls, bats, skipping ropes and other equipment. It also helps them develop and practice new skills.
• Park some distance away from your destination – school, sport or the shops – and walk the rest of the way.
• Encourage children and teens to try different sports or activities so they can find one or more that they really enjoy and want to continue with.
• Limit the amount of time that children and teens spend on ‘small screen’ entertainment – such as watching TV, going online or playing computer games – to no more than 2 hours a day.
• An active lifestyle is fueled by healthy foods – make sure your children make healthy food and drink choices and limit foods that are high in added sugar, salt and saturated fat.
Join our goal of mental health awareness by an active lifestyle. Your encouragement of your daughter’s physical activity will impact positively on her well-being. I challenge you as a family to get active and have fun.