If you were driving the coastline between Bar Beach and the harbour on Sunday, you may have been forgiven for thinking Christmas had come early with a string of Santas in a sea of red pounding the pavement.
More than 500 Novocastrians dressed up and took part in the revamped Variety Santa Fun Run.
I was on the beach for nippers and it was quite a sight to see the Santa suit-clad entrants lining the pathways above Bar Beach.
It was an even greater sight to see so many kids involved.
There are arguably a lot more reasons for kids to stay inside than when I was a kid. There were no mobile phones, no computers, PlayStations, iPads or Netflix.
From memory we only got two channels on our TV.
In daylight hours after school the neighbourhood kids would ride bikes, roller skate (yes, I grew up in the 80s) and skateboard.
Our weekends were spent either at the beach or camping and bushwalking.
It is referred to by www.health.qld.gov.au as “green exercise”, immersing yourself in the outdoors and reaping the benefits, which studies have found “can have positive effects on self-esteem and improve your mood, and the effect is especially noticed in people with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety”.
I definitely believe there is a time and place for TV for our kids but we try to balance it out with outdoor activities on a daily basis and the summer holidays especially in our household are all about the beach, the pool and the park.
I was sent a press release last week from Golden Circle, who have formulated a Get Out Camp Out (GOCO) summer campaign to encourage families to spend more time in the outdoors.
They ran similar campaigns the past two summers and have commissioned a research study undertaken by Harvest Insights where 500 Australian families with children under the age of 18 were used.
The research revealed children were spending less than an hour a day outside with almost half of the parents surveyed saying their kids only play outdoors two days a week.
It found more than 50 per cent of the parents surveyed indicated they would have spent six or seven days a week outdoors when they were younger, and 85 per cent of parents believed that spending time outdoors improves their children’s mental and physical health.
Golden Circle chief marketing officer Shalabh Atray said GOCO was the third iteration of the company’s Real Life Grows Outside campaign, encouraging Australians to move away from their screens and get involved in outdoor activities.
“In its first year, we offered bicycles and beach toys as the major prize,” Mr Altray said. “Last year, it was picnic equipment. This year, it is camping equipment and the interest continues to grow.”
The term “time poor” is used often these days but with extra hours of light in the day it is the perfect time to switch off the TV and devices and enjoy the outdoors. It might be as simple as a walk around the block looking at Christmas lights.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic, Newcastle, January 26: On Australia Day, take your pick of either a 700m single crossing of the harbour from Stockton Wharf or a 1.4km double crossing, starting and finishing at Queens Wharf.
Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, Newcastle Foreshore, February 24: Choose between an enticer, sprint or Olympic distance course or get a team together and pick a leg.
NewRun 2019, Newcastle, April 7: Take your pick between 5km, 10km, 21.1km and a new flat marathon (42.2km) course. The marathon can be done as a three-person team. There is also a kids 2km.
Sizzling Summers Sessions
Hit summer flying and get some fitness in the bank before Christmas arrives.
Combine skipping, running, rowing or cycling with strength exercises if at the gym. If outdoors alternate skipping and running.
Set 1: 5 squats, 5 push-ups, 5 shoulder press, 30 seconds skip; 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 shoulder press, 60sec skip; 15 squats, 15 push-ups, 15 shoulder press, 90sec skip.
Set 2: Repeat with dead lifts, pull-ups/rows, lateral raises and running.
Set 3: Repeat with lunges, biceps curls, triceps dips and rowing.
Set 4: Repeat with ab rotation, glute bridge, mountain climbers, cycling.
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.