FOUR out of five Australian children do not get enough daily exercise. One in four is overweight or obese.
But parents have an important role to play in motivating their children to be active, and exercising with them is one of the best ways to keep the entire family fit says Adrian Bauman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney.
"There are flow-on benefits for the whole family if parents are active; there are flow-on benefits for parents if kids are active," Professor Bauman said. "Active kids actually learn better — they can concentrate and focus more — so academic outcomes are better in kids [who] are active."
He said by encouraging children to exercise, parents could lay the foundation for future fitness.
"Active kids tend to grow up to be active adults," he said.. "It's about developing a lifelong pattern of being active."
For the Grima family, of Cecil Park, running together has become a healthy addiction. Therese and Simon and their children Vanessa, 15, and Andrew, 10, are tackling the 10-kilometre run at The Sun-Herald Rebel Run Sydney festival on October 27. Elder daughter Stephanie, 16, will cheer them on.
"We all are into fitness," Mrs Grima said. "It brings us together."
Andrew, who is keen to enter the half-marathon as soon as he is old enough, said he loved running with his parents and sister. "It's fun and it gets you more motivated. We always want to beat mum and dad at the finish line," he said.
The Department of Health recommends children get at least an hour of exercise a day, with 30 minutes daily for adults. Professor Bauman said it was not a difficult target to reach, but the Bureau of Statistics' latest national health survey found just under half of all adults and only one-fifth of children met minimum guidelines for physical activity. Data from the Institute of Health and Welfare shows three in five adults - 12 million people - are overweight or obese, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.