Health Areas / Physical Activity
How can whānau be physically active?

It’s never too late to start being active.  No matter what your age, size or physical condition is, everyone can benefit from moving more.

Getting started moving is easier than you think.  Changing a few daily habits can soon add up to a more active you.  Be active in as many ways as possible every day.  Every 10 minutes counts, and if you don’t think you can squeeze anything else into your day, see if you can reduce the time you spend sitting still and free up time to be active.  Getting physically active doesn’t need to be a chore - find something you enjoy or ask your whānau, tamariki or a friend to join you.  Mātua and hapū leaders who are well respected by their whānau are in a good position to promote the positive kaupapa of physical activity, hauora and wellbeing, while the marae itself can provide a safe venue for activity to take place. 
   
•    Start in small amounts, especially if you have been inactive for a long time.
•    Find an activity that you enjoy doing.
•    Ask your whānau, tamariki or a friend to join you.
•    Set yourself a realistic target to do a little physical activity each day.  This walking guide is a good way to get you started!
•    Gradually increase the amount you are doing.  Go for a little longer or a little further.
•    Build up to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.

How much physical activity do we need?

What you do and how much you do is important for your mauri, your wairua and your hauora.  Remember that even small increases in physical activity can improve your health.  It is never too early or late to start.  Be active every day, in as many ways as possible!   You’ll be in better overall health, have more energy, have better posture and balance, have stronger muscles and bones, you’ll have fun, it’ll raise your self-esteem, help you manage your weight, improve your fitness, improve your sleep, and you’ll feel more relaxed, and less stressed!  Not sure on how much physical activity you should be doing?  See the below recommendations for pēpi, tamariki, pakeke, kaumātua/kuia, and hapū mama.  Remember, large scale change occurs when lots of people change just a little.

Pēpi

From birth to five years of age, tamariki experience a significant amount of physical, mental and socio-emotional development.  Physical activity, through play, encourages this development and enables tamariki to develop skills that will give them the motivation, confidence and ability to be physically active as they grow.  It is important that they experience physical activity in everyday life environments, including nature, to encourage creativity, imagination and exploration.  Our bodies are made for movement, not for sitting or lying down. 

Tamariki (children 5 to 17 years)

•    Do lots of physical activity

Do at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity spread over each day.  Also do a variety of light physical activities for several hours a day.  Include vigorous physical activity and activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least 3 days a week.

•    Don’t spend much time sitting

Spend no more than 2 hours a day on recreational screen time.  Sit less, move more, and break up sitting time.

•    Get enough sleep

   o    For 5 to 13 year olds, get 9 to 11 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep each night.
   o    For 14 to 17 year olds, get 8 to 10 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep each night.

•    Have a regular bedtime and wake up time.

•    For greater health benefits trade indoor time for outdoor time, and replace sitting time and light physical activity with more moderate or vigorous physical activity. 

Pakeke (adults)

•    Do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate or 1 ¼ hours of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week.  Moderate intensity activity causes a slight, but noticeable, increase in breath and heart rate. You can still carry on a conversation.  Vigorous intensity activity makes you out of breath – you can’t do these activities and chat at the same time.

•    For extra health benefits, aim for 5 hours of moderate or 2 ½ hours of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week.

•    Do some muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Kaumātua/Kuia (Elders) 

Staying active is important when you’re getting older (including if you have health conditions).  Regular physical activity can improve your health and wellbeing, and make it easier to perform daily tasks.

Spend more time being physically active and less time sitting down.  Do lots of daily physical activities such as, walking to the shops, vacuuming, gardening, washing the car.

•    Do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on 5 days or more per week, such as brisk walking, ballroom dancing, cycling, kapa haka, lane swimming, playing with mokopuna.

•    Try to add 3 sessions of flexibility and balance activities, and 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening activities per week.  

Hapū Māmā

•    It’s important to stay active during your pregnancy because being active and healthy helps both you and your baby.  It also helps to prepare your body for the birth.  It is very important talk to your midwife (or specialist doctor) before you start any new activity to make sure that the exercise you do won’t harm you or your baby.  Walking, swimming and pilates or yoga can all be good exercise in pregnancy.

How can whānau be more active?

Most whānau want their tamariki to be active, even if they are not active themselves!   Role modelling is important - tamariki and rangatahi look up to older whānau members so the more they see others being active, the more likely they are to be active too!  We want our tamariki to sit less, move more, sleep well.  You can motivate and tautoko whānau to be more active by teaching them, leading by example, and giving them the opportunity to be more physically active within their hapū.  Promote the positive kaupapa of physical activity, hauora and wellbeing within your hapū.
 
Many whānau get togethers can often be centered around kai.  Why not change that and spend time with whānau while being active together?  Try and make physical activity an “all-whanau event” and include as many people as possible, from tamariki through to kaumatua and kuia, in events and activities.  Ensure activities involve different levels of intensity and skill for different ages and abilities.  The more whānau involved, the more likely whānau are to stick at it and enjoy it and encourage each other along the way.  The key is to try not to make physical activity a chore, if it’s fun then it’s something you’ll enjoy and want to keep doing!  

For whānau members who are just starting out on their physical activity journey, start by setting small, achievable goals and make sure you are protecting yourself from pain or injury.  It can be as simple as joining tamariki while they play outside, rather than than sitting inside the wharenui.

Just starting out?  Here’s some tips!  Get fit, stay safe!

•    Start slowly
•    Dress appropriately
•    Stay safe
•    Stay hydrated

Starting out – Physical Activity

Being active isn’t just about going for a run or doing a workout at the gym.  It is about building activity into your daily life:

•    take the stairs instead of the lift
•    walk to the shops rather than drive
•    get off the bus one stop early and walk the remainder of the way
•    park the car further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way
•    wash your car by hand
•    use chores around the garden or marae to work up a sweat.

If you want help to be active, talk to your doctor or nurse about getting a Green Prescription – you’ll get personal advice and support to become more physically active.

Starting out – Exercise

Begin with light activities and move on to more intense ones.  If you have been inactive for a long time, getting started may be a bit uncomfortable.  You may find your muscles get stiff and sore.  Start slowly.  Each day, increase the time and intensity a little.  Most of the discomfort will pass as you get used to being active.  If you have any pain or discomfort that lasts for more than a day or you are worried, talk to your doctor or nurse.

When it comes to exercise, choose an activity you will enjoy and are therefore more likely to stick with on a regular basis.  This could be anything from joining a sports club or group exercise class, to going for a swim at the local pool.  Exercising with friends and whānau is also a fun and sociable way to keep fit and you will be able to keep each other motivated if one of you loses momentum.

Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you and your fitness levels, as suitable types of activity for one person may be too much or too little for another.  If the most energetic part of your day is walking from your car to the office, then parking further away and walking at a quicker pace would be a good form of exercise for your body. However, a 5km run is maybe too much of a challenge too soon.

Remember to seek advice if you’re unsure about your health or how active to be.  If you experience pain, dizziness or shortness of breath during your activity, stop and contact your doctor.

It is important to minimise risks to your safety when being active.  Make sure that you:     
•    wear appropriate clothing and footwear
•    use sunscreen and wear a hat outdoors in summer
•    use appropriate safety gear, e.g. helmets for cycling, a life jacket when kayaking and boating etc
•    drink enough water

Kaua e mate wheke mate ururoa!  Never give up!

How can we be more active on our marae?

Our world around us influences the choices we make about physical activity, just as it affects all other choices.  The marae can play a big role in helping whānau to be more physically active.  In days of old, the marae / Pā was where many sports and games were played including kaipara (athletics and martial arts), tī ringaringa (hand games), whai (string patterns) and karetao (puppets), and tamariki also played with toys made from natural materials.  Nowadays, social gatherings at the marae are mainly for tangihanga, celebrations, and other hui, and it is often just the tamariki who are being active, running around and playing games on or near the ātea.  Let’s change this whānau!
 
Hapū leaders who are well respected by their whānau are in a good position to promote the positive kaupapa of physical activity, hauora and wellbeing, while the marae itself can provide a safe venue for activity to take place.  It is great to see some marae rekindling traditional practices such kapa haka, mau rākau/weaponry, as well as modern activities such as line dancing and fitness sessions, and inter-whānau and inter-hapū challenges.  Let’s keep this up!  When looking to increase physical activity for your whānau, hapū or marae, adopting a holistic approach and including activities to promote whakawhanaungatanga, karakia, tikanga and kōrero hītori (discussions around historic events and practices) are a great idea to ensure whānau have the best possible chance of maintaining their physical activity and benefiting from all that our hauora brings. Te Ao Māori – The Māori World View is about incorporating all aspects of wellbeing into our adopted practices and activities and bringing these components together increases the chances of sustainable success.  In terms of being physically active, this means including elements of our wairua, hinengaro, and whānau into our physical activity programmes and there are many examples of this taking place on our marae today.

Here are some more ideas to get whānau active on the marae:
    

  • There are a range of physical activities that have always traditionally taken place on the marae which promote healthy living, often without being noticed.  For example, powhiri, where tangata whenua welcome manuhiri on to their marae, is filled with physical activity.  Starting with the karanga initiating the wairua of the pōwhiri where physical emotion cannot only be seen through body movements and physical expressions, but also felt.  Kaiwero will display skill, power and strength, as too with the kaikōrero.  Physical expressions are also continued through waiata tautoko and also any waiata ngāhau by the tangata whenua to entertain their guests during the hākari.  Behind the scenes, ringawera engage in physical activity in the wharenui, wharekai, wharepaku and marae surroundings where they ensure the tikanga of manaakitanga is upheld.  This unintended activity, which often goes unnoticed, counts towards leading an active lifestyle and helps keep our bodies moving.  
     

  • Pa-Wars is where an inter-marae challenge occurs, normally involving sports and other physical activities with tikanga Māori (Māori cultural practices) interwoven into the various activities.  Pa-Wars can involve any sport, from petanque to touch and everything in between.  This kaupapa is a good way to increase physical activity and also incorporates whakawhanaungatanga between associated marae, hapū, and local community networks.  Check out the below video which showcases the Tūwharetoa Pa-Wars challenge from 2015.


     
  • Marae-based wananga (workshops) are also a positive way to get whānau being active on the marae.  These wananga bring together whānau and hapū onto the marae to discuss and plan ideas and initiatives to increase physical activity, promote health living options, and identify tikanga (protocols) on the marae to help whanau to be healthy.  This can be undertaken through the strengthening of wairua (spiritual wellbeing) and hinengaro (mental wellbeing).  Wananga were a key aspect for traditional Māori society in terms of sharing tribal knowledge to ensure learnings and experiences were passed on for the success and holistic wellbeing of an Iwi’s descendants.  In today’s society wananga provides a similar function through the delivery of educational seminars, conferences, and as a forum to discuss and consider issues and developmental opportunities for whānau.
     

  • Marae-based physical activity classes for whānau are a good example of the marae bringing together whānau and walking the physical activity journey together.  Activities such as tai chi, karate, and kanikani are popular options.  Click here to see a good example of this from Manurewa Marae.  Whānau or your marae committee may be keen to get something like this underway for your hapū. Support and planning for these activities can be initiated through whānau and the wider community interests associated with your marae by simply pulling everyone together and identifying key people and resources to deliver a programme/kaupapa that suits the needs and aspirations of your hapū and marae.  So KIA KAHA and get things happening on your marae to keep everybody physically active, healthy and connected with each other.
     

  • The marae is the heart of the hapū where whānau meet and celebrate, and is the cultural focal point of all things within Te Ao Māori.  A lot of the time enjoying kai and mixing and mingling with whānau takes place on the marae, whether it is when holding hui, when mourning a lost whānau member, when discussing significant issues such as the wellbeing of hapū members, and when looking after te taiao (the environment). Therefore, it makes sense to also activate our whānau and hapū members on the marae and encourage whanau to be more physically active.  This will benefit everyone from tamariki through to kaumatua and kuia.  In this way the promotion of healthy kai and nutritional habits, enhancing whakawhanaungatanga (social connections), and how we connect with the whenua, wai and te taiao through being more physically active outdoors is all taking place at the most significant cultural place we know as Māori - our Marae.

Tikanga Māori and Te Ao Māori concepts are important for Māori whānau in regards to being active and healthy.  These can be promoted and developed through the marae setting.  Iwi and hapū can promote Māori traditional games, activities and weaponry as forms of physical activity, while they also bring entertainment, learning opportunities, and help to develop coordination skills. 

Examples of these kinds of activities include: 

  • Kapa haka is a traditional and contemporary dance and performances utilising Te Reo Me Ona Tikanga.  As a physical activity, kapa haka is vigorous and requires good co-ordination, timing and strength.  As well as being good for your health by keeping you fit and moving, kapa haka can provide other benefits for hapū that are cultural, social, educational, and economic.  It can revitalise and promote te reo through the incorporation of other cultural elements of Te Ao Māori, and is an excellent way to retain our knowledge and whakapapa that underpin who we are and where we came from.  Kapa haka competitions within schools and marae all aim for the ultimate goal of participating in Te Matatini, which is the pinnacle event for Māori Performing Arts.

  • Mau rākau is a form of traditional martial arts that involves a series of skillful movements. Much of traditional Māori society was based on warfare and weaponry of which mau rākau was part of.  The upbringings of young warriors were conditioned to be experts in weaponry which required being physically and strategically skilled to fight and defend your whānau, hapū, and iwi.  Today, mau rākau is taught and practiced through wananga and formal programmes to maintain the physical and mental prowess that our tupuna possessed.  On Mokoia Island in Rotorua there is a prominent mau rākau wananga for students wanting to learn the traditional weaponry and acknowledge the practices and spiritual connections to our past.  Similar wananga are now held all around Aotearoa.
     

  • Waka ama activities – The sport itself has cultural and historic connections for Māori and other Polynesian nations and is based on the racing of outrigger waka in either a singles or teams format.   As a physical activity and a form of exercise, waka ama has quickly become one of the fastest growing pastimes for Māori and is an excellent form of being physically active, connecting with whānau and the wider community, and participating in an activity that links you to your tupuna and how they became the first arrivals in Aotearoa.  Waka ama caters for all age groups and levels of abilities and is a significant physical activity event for Māori throughout Aotearoa and beyond.  To find a Waka Ama club near you click here.
     

  • Regular hikoi (walks) - Hikoi to historic places of local significance not only provides exercise but can benefit whānau spiritually by encouraging a deeper understanding of the natural environment, encouraging discussion and learning about tribal knowledge such as histories, legends, ancestors and place names, native plants, and the sharing of knowledge about rongoā (medicines) and Māori healing practices.  Takahia ngā tapuwae a o tūpuna - Retrace the footsteps of your ancestors.



  • Explore your maunga - Work towards a goal of walking your maunga, climbing a part of your maunga, or walking the summit of your ancestral maunga.  An alternative may be for you to return to your forest to walk and be revitalised by the presence of Tāne-mahuta.  Hokia ki to maunga kia purea e koe i ngā hau o Tāwhiri-mātea - Return to your ancestral mountain so you may be cleansed by the winds of Tāwhiri-mātea.
     

  • Being connected to your ancestral maunga can be empowering in terms of knowing who you are and the history of your tūpuna. So why not start regular hikoi or oma up and around your maunga together as a whānau and hapū following in the historic footsteps of your ancestors to maintain your physical activity journey, and ensure we keep our traditions alive.
     

  • Kohinga kai – Collecting kai has been an activity that has long been practiced by Māori and requires significant physical strength, capabilities, and stamina.  Whether it is fishing, diving, collecting kai moana, hunting, or collecting other indigenous Māori kai, they all require you to be physically strong and active and are a fun activity to do with whānau and reap the yum rewards!

  • Water activities and sports – Rivers, lakes and the ocean are an integral part of New Zealand culture, and have particular cultural significance for Māori who have a special connection to wai.  Water is essential to life and identity for Māori and represents vitality.  It is an area of play, amusement, a place to bathe and wash, a source of spiritual sustenance, healing and nutrition.  Water activities and sports which involve being active can include fishing and diving, swimming, waka ama, hoe waka, and collecting kai moana, as well as bathing in ancestral waters. 

  • Iron Māori is an endurance event that promotes Māori physical health through training and participation under the “Ironman” sporting concept.  It involves long distance running, swimming, and cycling.

How can we be more active in our kāinga/home?

Being more active doesn’t just refer to playing competitive sport and exercising at a gym.  There are a range of activities you can do at home as part of your everyday life to increase physical activity and help to improve your health. These include:

•    Gardening and maintaining the yard
•    Housework and cleaning of the whare
•    Introducing a monthly spring-clean day to refresh/revitalise the whare and the surrounding areas, can also include changing the layout of the lounge and bedrooms
•    Tai chi, yoga, pilates and other stretching exercises
•    Playing cricket at home with whānau, throwing or kicking the ball around in the back yard, or table tennis in the shed are all good ways of keeping active and brining whānau together.

How can we be more active in our community?

Active transport is any self-propelled mode of transport, such as walking, jogging, using a scooter, cycling, rollerskates or skating, to get from one place to another.  Commuting by using active transport is a great way of incorporating physical activity into everyday life. 

As a member of the community it is your right to tell those planning your community (your local Council) what you would like to see to help you and your whānau be more active.  Do you want more bike paths?  Do you want better footpaths?  Do you want a skate park?  Do you want a multi-purpose sports facility?  You have the power to have your say and have your ideas heard to help your hapū be more active.  For further information on how you can have your say, email the Hapū Hauora Kaupapa Lead at Toi Te Ora Public Health.

I'm struggling to be physically active, how do I overcome this?

Getting physically active doesn’t need to be a chore and by finding something you enjoy and starting in small amounts you can create positive habits.  Here’s some tips to help you get in to the swing of things:

•    Speak with whānau or those close to you as they may also be struggling too.  Together, support one another!  There are also many local clubs and groups in our community, get involved and connect with others for support.

•    Many whānau get-togethers can often be centred around kai. Why not change that and spend time with whānau while being active together? Try and make physical activity an “all-whānau event” and include as many people as possible, from tamariki through to kaumatua and kuia, in events and activities. Ensure activities involve different levels of intensity and skill for different ages and abilities. The more whānau involved, the more likely whānau are to stick at it and enjoy it and encourage each other along the way. The key is to try not to make physical activity a chore, if it’s fun then it’s something you’ll enjoy and want to keep doing! 

•    For whānau members who are just starting out on their physical activity journey, start by setting small, achievable goals and make sure you are protecting yourself from pain or injury. It can be as simple as joining tamariki while they play outside, rather than than sitting inside the wharenui.

•    Your doctor or practice nurse can also provide a Green Prescription (free written or face-to-face advice on getting active and feeling better) and put you in touch with support to help you and keep you motivated. This support is tailored to your interests and goals and can include the whole whānau.

•    If the winter weather prevents you from getting outside, don’t just reach for technology. Make your time inside count. There are many ways to get physical activity indoors - no gym required - and you can even do this in the wharenui. Hand weights or resistance bands are a great addition, but not necessary. You can also wear a heavy backpack to add intensity to your workout. Repetitive, gentle stretching, is important too. As well as reducing the risk of muscle cramps and muscle strains, stretching also improves flexibility.

Try these indoor activities:

•    Home workout circuit
•    Kanikani
•    Jump rope
•    Stair stepping
•    Planking
•    Lunges
•    Water bottle weights
•    High Knees
•    Active housework or maintenance around the marae like vacuuming and sweeping
•    Jumping Jacks
•    Youtube workouts


HE AHA AI

Why be physically active?
 


HE AHA

What is physical activity?
 


PEHEA AI

How can whānau be physically active?