A new report from VicHealth has shown teenagers are struggling to do even an hour of physical activity a day and are almost five times more likely to be on their smartphone or tablet than being active.
The report highlights 92 per cent of teenagers aren’t meeting the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines of an hour of physical activity every day. In contrast, the average teenager spends more than three hours a day on screens like smartphones and iPads.
In response, the health promotion body has announced up to $6 million in new funding over three years to get teens moving as part of its Growing Participation in Sport program.
VicHealth chief executive officer Jerril Rechter said teenagers often dropped out of sport because it stopped being fun and started being competitive.
“Health experts are warning that our kids could be the first generation with lower life-expectancy than their parents. Low levels of physical activity are a key driver of this change.
“Playing sport is a really fun and social way for our kids to keep active, but we know that sport participation halves when they hit their teenage years.
“Many teenagers have told us that they stopped playing sport because it stopped being fun. Other reasons include too much focus on the competition and skill level and teenagers having to juggle other commitments like their academic performance, part-time work and social lives.
“The way sport is traditionally offered isn’t what many teenagers are wanting. We want to work together with sporting organisations to get more teenagers across the state active and healthy through sport.”
Ms Rechter said the program would address findings in the report to provide sport programs for teens that are fun, social and less competitive.
“Being a teenager can be really stressful, particularly having to juggle increasing pressures. Sport can be a great stress reliever, but only if it’s offered in a way that allows kids to enjoy it.
We want to see sport programs that are low-cost, social, and less focused on winning and being the best, and more focused on having fun and building skills.”
More information about the program is available at vichealth.vic.gov.au/sport-participation-funding.