One of the things I love about sport and physical activity is that it provides a way to connect with people – it’s often the common ground between people of different classes, ages and cultural backgrounds. Despite this, our Indigenous, migrant and refugee communities are more likely to be physically inactive than their Australian-born counterparts.

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The Dynamic Classroom

A New Zealand study has shown that replacing traditional classroom desks and chairs with standing desks and Swiss balls improved students’ attitudes, attention and concentration levels, creating a better learning environment for both the students and their teacher.

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Make a difference to your mob

Bluearth Foundation is offering two scholarships to Perth based Aboriginal women passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of their mob.

The scholarships are offered in partnership with the WA Department of Sport and Recreation and Yok Djakoorliny, a health and wellbeing group for Noongar and other Aboriginal women and their friends.

Scholarships holders will receive accredited Certificate IV training, mentoring and support and student registration to Physical Activity Australia to enable them to become fitness leaders for their community.

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The 2016 Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card has again shown that Aussie kids are some of the least active in the world, receiving a D minus for physical activity and sedentary behaviour. This is an urgent wakeup call that must be heeded by us all: government, educators, policy makers, community organisations, sports and parents.

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What could be done to make your city or community more liveable, more walkable? Do you have ideas to share, or would you like to learn about cities around the world who are leading the way in creating environments that encourage us all to move more and sit less?

Walk21 Hong Kong is the 17th annual conference on walking and liveable communities, and is open to anyone passionate about exploring ways to encourage more physical activity at a community level.

From 3-7 October 2016, come along to the Hong Kong Convention Centre and hear how Hong Kong is become one of Asia’s most walkable cities, and what this means to you and where you live. Explore the bridges, back alleys, pavements, flyovers and tunnels that comprise Hong Kong’s walkable spaces. professors, captains of industry, architects, urban planners, city mayors and walking advocates from more than 20 countries from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia will share their research, stories and experiences around urban walkability.

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Following on from our successful partnership with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation that addressed bullying in schools, we are expanding this program in 2016 to further develop student leadership and wellbeing.

The program will show staff and students how positive physical activity experiences create a strong foundation for safe, healthy environments for children.

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As leaders from 196 countries meet for the Paris Climate Change Conference, a World Health Organisation (WHO) Report has identified measures to reduce health risks from climate pollutants.

We are very pleased that active transport is one of the top four effective, measurable priorities listed in the report. The report urges governments to develop policies and investments to foster ‘dedicated rapid transit such as buses and trains and… safe pedestrian and cycle networks’.

This is supported by previous WHO studies on active transport that have suggested that costs associated with promoting a shift to public transport and creating safe walking and cycling networks will be offset by the reduction in costs associated with the loss of life and costs of treating people for air-pollution related illnesses, traffic injuries and diseases related to physical inactivity.

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Four thousand ACT families are set to join the Mighty Movers movement; a program that is simply about families enjoying physical activity together.

The ACT Government’s Healthy Canberra Grant will allow Bluearth’s Mighty Movers program to reach every family attending ACT playgroups over a three-year period.

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It’s almost universally recommended that for optimal physical and mental health, children engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day and limit the time they spend watching TV, playing computer games, and surfing the net on various devices.

In 2001, the American Academy of Paediatrics released guidelines recommending children under two years have no screen exposure and children over two should have no more than two hours for entertainment per day.

The Australian Department of Health followed suit, recommending no screen time for children under two, a maximum of one hour for children aged two to five years, and two hours for children aged five
to 17.

But while achieving the physical activity part of the recommendation is realistic, limiting screen use to two hours is becoming virtually impossible. After all, young Australians use screens for homework, social media and entertainment.

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People who are sedentary should focus on small increases in their activity level and not dwell on public health recommendations on exercise, according to new research.

Current targets call for 150 minutes of weekly exercise — or 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week — to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Although these standards don’t need to be abandoned, they shouldn’t be the primary message about exercise for inactive people, experts argued in two separate analyses in the Jan. 21 BMJ.

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Regular exercise doesn’t erase the higher risk of serious illness or premature death that comes from sitting too much each day, a new review reveals.

Combing through 47 prior studies, Canadian researchers found that prolonged daily sitting was linked to significantly higher odds of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dying.

And even if study participants exercised regularly, the accumulated evidence still showed worse health outcomes for those who sat for long periods, the researchers said. However, those who did little or no exercise faced even higher health risks.

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Being sedentary may be twice as deadly as being obese, a new study suggests. However, even a little exercise — a brisk 20-minute walk each day, for example — is enough to reduce the risk of an early death by as much as 30 percent, the British researchers added.

“Efforts to encourage small increases in physical activity in inactive individuals likely have significant health benefits,” said lead author Ulf Ekelund, a senior investigator scientist in the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

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It is no surprise that ‘tech toys’, game consoles and digital devices are once again at the top of many a Christmas wish list this year, however in the face of a generation of youngsters who are more interested in ‘screen time’ than ‘play time’ it may be worth taking a moment to consider Christmas gift options that will not only keep your kids happy, but also get them moving.

We have seen a lot in the media in recent times about our increasingly sedentary lives and arguably one of the most alarming statistics shows that two out of three Australian children do not meet the National Guidelines for daily physical activity. The truth is that it is impacting more than just their physical health. Too much screen time affects their development by limiting their opportunity to develop independent thinking, creativity and problem solving skills. In cases where screen time exceeds the recommended limits, there is growing evidence to suggest that it makes for children who are ‘less creative, and socially and mentally aware’ said psychologist Jodie Benveniste in a recent interview with the Herald Sun.

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When you have an NBA Basketball Star weighing in on a local Council issue, all the way from Los Angeles, you know you’ve struck a nerve. Such was the response last week, when Oak Park mother of three, Taryne Jackson was contacted by Andrew Bogut, NBA player with Golden State Warriors. Ms Jackson had been issued with an order from her local council to remove a basketball hoop from her front yard or face a $200 infringement and the hoop impounded.

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Whilst there is growing evidence for the importance of physical activity and exercise for dementia risk reduction – there is less known about the benefits of physical activity and exercise for people with dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia has released a discussion paper providing a overview of the benefits for people with dementia.

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The Active Healthy Kids 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People was released just over six months ago. Since then it has achieved 900 media stories and reached 11 million Australians. Active Healthy Kids Australia have set in motion a 4 year plan to release reports over the period 2015-8 and have published a letter outlining some of the key communications they have done.

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The Board of Bluearth Foundation has this week announced the appointment of a new Director, Gail Morgan, who is the current CEO of Osteoporosis Australia.

Based in Canberra, Gail brings to the Board two decades of experience in and around government including in ministerial offices, the bureaucracy, peak bodies and the corporate sector. Her policy background includes industry and research and development (R&D), pharmaceuticals and health. Prior to joining Osteoporosis Australia, Gail was a director at Hawker Britton.

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By Tim Olds, University of South Australia

If we could go back 100 years in a time machine, what would kids be like? They’d be shorter, leaner, probably dirtier and less well-fed — but would they be fitter?

It turns out we actually have a beautiful window on the past. In 1919, a young woman named E.M. Bedale started postgraduate research at University College London, an uncommon undertaking for a woman at that time. Her studies focused on energy balance in children, which led her to spend several years at a serendipitously eponymous school called Bedales in rural Hampshire.

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At the recent national physical activity conference in Canberra, the 2014-2017 Blueprint for an Active Australia by the National Heart Foundation was released outlining Government and community actions to increase population levels of physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in Australia.

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Australian school children rank among the worst in the world for overall physical activity levels, narrowly avoiding a FAIL in a new national report card released recently.

The report card has found that 80% of 5-17 year olds are not meeting the Australian physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Using an international ranking tool developed in Canada, Australia’s Report Card measured our performance against 14 other countries around the world. The Active Healthy Kids Australia Physical Activity Report Card for Children and Young People was developed by researchers at several leading Australian universities and research institutes using data from a number of national and state-based surveys.

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Women would benefit from being prescribed exercise as medicine according to a Queensland University of Technology study that revealed moderate to high intensity activity is essential to reducing the risk of death in older women.

The study’s co-author, Professor Debra Anderson, said that in addition to conventional treatments for physical and mental health, health professionals should be prescribing tailored exercise programs for older women.

The study pulls together five years of research into the impact of exercise on mental and physical health of women over the age of 50.

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