Added to this, Melbourne is home to some of the world's most prestigious cultural and sporting events and in 2010 was named the world's Ultimate Sports City for the third consecutive time (liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au). After moving to Melbourne this year, we have personally experienced its liveability and we have been overwhelmed by what is on offer right on our doorstep. Melbourne has amazing opportunities for leisure and recreation, and is also home to AFL, the Australian Open, the Rip Curl Pro, the Motorcycle Grand Prix, V8 Super Cars, not to mention countless cycling, horse racing and golf events. This list could easily go on and on.
Amidst all this action, it is interesting to note that one in six Victorians aged over 15 years does not participate in any physical activity and 23 per cent of Victorian secondary school students are considered overweight or obese. These statistics have not gone unnoticed and the Victorian government has once again launched its annual initiative encouraging the health of Victorian families. Premier Ted Baillieu is striving to improve the health of our community and is calling on Victorians to get active this March and April for the Premier's Active Families Challenge.
"I'm inviting all Victorians to take up the Challenge and schedule a break in their busy lives and increase their levels of physical activity. Participants will improve their health and well-being, spend quality time with friends and family, and have the chance to win great prizes," Mr Baillieu said (premier.vic.gov.au). The Premier's Active Families Challenge asks individuals and families across the state to take part in 30 minutes of physical activity for 30 days over a six week period from 19 March to 30 April. At Lakeside Stadium to launch the campaign, Minister for Health David Davis said the Premier's Active Families Challenge was a great way to help prevent unhealthy lifestyles.
"Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle are major contributors to reducing a range of illnesses and conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity, and the Challenge is an easy way of helping Victorians incorporate exercise in their daily routines," Mr Davis said.
Olympic swimming champion and mother of three Nicole Livingstone is accepting the Challenge and said it was the perfect opportunity to spend quality time as a family while developing healthy exercise habits for the long-term.
Ted Baillieu wrote to every school encouraging students and their families to take the challenge (smartplay.com.au). After seeing the advert in our school newsletter I decided to sign up our family. We have been taking family walks and bike rides, attending the gym and going swimming at the local YMCA with our free passes we received for joining the challenge. YMCA Victoria has been an official community partner since 2008. In 2010 more than 67,000 Victorians participated in the Premier's Active Families Challenge and over 2000 free passes were issued (Victoria.ymca.org.au). Even though there is the unpredictability of the Victorian climate it is quite easy to find countless indoor opportunities for sport and recreation so the weather is not an excuse be inactive.
So far it has been a very positive experience for our family and I am sure many other Victorians, who may not always have an active family lifestyle, are also seeing the benefits of being encouraged to and given opportunity to get active. It doesn't matter where we live in the world, what Victoria is doing is a good reminder of what we should be doing to be as effective as we can in our homes, in our workplaces and communities. It is not about being obsessed about body image and weight loss and going on fad diets.
The bottom line is that the Lord wants His children to take excellent care of their bodies since they are the residence of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). A strong healthy body helps us stay in shape so we can better serve God each day and thus bring glory and honour to Him, our principal reason for living. The Lord wants us to keep our focus on Him and not fall into obsessing about and much we are eating or how much exercise we are doing. But being active as a family can only promote wellness spiritually and physically and honours who God is in our life.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html