6th July 2018 by by Matthew Shields

The world Health Organisation (WHO) has just released their Global Action Plan on Physical Activity: More active people for a healthier world. The findings will not come as a shock to any of us:

  • Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and treat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. It also helps prevent hypertension, overweight and obesity and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being. Yet, much of the world is becoming less active.
  • As countries develop economically, levels of inactivity increase. In some countries, these levels can be as high as 70%, due to changing transport patterns, increased use of technology, cultural values and urbanization.

The new global action plan on physical activity 2018 – 2030 promotes physical activity and responds to the requests by countries for updated guidance, and a framework of effective and feasible policy actions to increase physical activity at all levels.  The plan sets out four objectives and recommends 20 policy actions that are universally applicable to all countries.

  1. Create an active society – social norms and attitudes
  2. Create an active society – social norms and attitudes
  3. Create active people – programmes and opportunities
  4. Create active systems – governance and policy enablers


What does this mean to Western Australia?

Active Living for All 2017-2019 provides a vision for Western Australia to be the most active state in Australia. Setting out the strategic vision required to tackle physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours to meet the needs of the Western Australian community.  Including: a focus on reducing sedentary behaviour; life course and life stage approach to active living; and encouraging physical activity outdoors and in nature.

The lift out summary of the Active Living framework outlines the collective approach in implementing Active Living for All 2017–2019 and details the key roles, responsibilities and activities required to tackle this important agenda and realise significant economic, environmental, health and social outcomes.

The findings from the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS) show that in 2015, almost two-thirds (64%) of Western Australian adults were sufficiently active for good health. Physical activity levels have remained steady around 63% over the past five years.

Many Australian adults sit for at least nine hours per day with a considerable amount of time spent sitting for sustained bouts of 30 minutes or more[i]. This behaviour is contrary to Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines that advocates minimising prolonged sitting.  Other concerning results include that: » 43% of Western Australian adults report spending most of their day sitting[ii]; and » Australian adults spend on average 22 hours a week sitting at work and during travel.

What does this mean to Western Australian schools?

Schools can play a significant role in influencing the physical activity habits of their students, teachers, parents and the wider school community. Encouraging education systems sector and schools to:

  • adopt a whole of school approach to physical activity – engage staff, students, parents and the wider community;
  • ensure that each student participates in at least two hours* of physical activity each week during the school day;
  • prioritise regular, highly active physical education classes;
  • support teachers who are well trained, supported and resourced to deliver physical activity;
  • facilitate links between the school and community physical activity programs and amenities;
  • create opportunities for students to engage in structured and unstructured physical activity during recess, lunch time and after school;
  • provide environments and opportunities that encourage active transport to and from school;
  • ensure school design, location and facilities encourage physical activity;
  • provide sufficient play areas, facilities, sports equipment and supervision during unstructured time; and
  • share facilities and provide community access to school recreation facilities after hours;

*Department of Education’ s Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Policy and Procedures directs principals and teaching staff to deliver a curriculum that provides all students from Kindergarten to Year 10 with the opportunity to participate in at least two hours of physical activity each week, during the school day, as part of the learning program.

What does this mean to Health and Physical Education?

Health and Physical Education lessons are the perfect opportunity to provide students with exposure to high quality activities, the opportunity to find their sporting passion and instil a lifelong appetite for physical activity.

Physical activity is a broad term that includes playing sport; exercise and fitness activities such as dance, yoga and tai chi; everyday activities such as walking to work, household chores and gardening; and many other forms of active recreation

Integral to Health and Physical Education is the acquisition of movement skills, concepts and strategies to enable students to confidently, competently and creatively participate in a range of physical activities in various contexts and settings. Students learn about how the body moves; how to approach and resolve challenges; how to optimise movement performance; and the benefits of physical activity to themselves, others and communities. Through movement in a variety of contexts and settings, students acquire, practise, manage and refine personal, interpersonal, social and cognitive skills.

Resources to assist

Fundamental Movement Skills resource deepens teachers’ understandings of how to effectively assess, plan, and teach physical activity, with details on how to break down each skill for assessment and teaching purposes. The resources provides practical teaching activities that assist teachers to plan and deliver effective learning experiences that enhance students’ development of proficient Fundamental Movement Skills i.e. the movement patterns that involve different body parts.

Sporting Schools is a $200 million Australian Government initiative designed to help schools to increase children’s participation in sport, and to connect them with community sporting opportunities. Research shows that an early connection to sport can positively influence participation and encourage a lifelong love of sport. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has partnered with more than 30 national sporting organisations (NSOs) to deliver sport before, during and after school hours.

Physical literacy is the integration of physical, psychological, cognitive and social capabilities that help us live active, healthy and fulfilling lifestyles:

  • Physical – the skills and fitness a person acquires and applies through movement
  • Psychological – the attitudes and emotions a person has towards movement and the impact these have on their confidence and motivation to move
  • Cognitive – a person’s understanding of how, why and when they move
  • Social – a person’s interaction with others and the environment in relation to movement.