Number of children getting enough physical activity drops by 40%

PE

The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school.

A new survey from Public Health England (PHE) and Disney looking at the effects of physical activity on children’s emotional wellbeing, found:

  • being active made the majority of 5 to 11 year olds feel happier (79%), more confident (72%), and more sociable (74%), according to their parents
  • nearly all children said they liked being active (93%)
  • the main motivations for kids to be more active was having friends to join in (53%) and having more activities they liked to choose from (48%)
  • children’s overall happiness declines with age; 64% of 5 and 6 year olds said they always feel happy, compared to just 48% of 11 year olds
  • 19% of children said they were less active due to a lack of sports or activities they enjoyed

To help kids do more activity throughout the summer holidays, Change4Life is today launching its national 10 Minute Shake Ups programme with Disney and schools across the country.

The programme offers fun, 10-minute activities for kids, featuring their favourite Disney characters and shows as inspiration. The activities, designed for children to do anywhere in small or large groups with their friends, help children get more of the 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity they need each day for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight.

Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.

Eustace de Sousa, National Lead for Children, Young People and Families, PHE said:

Children’s physical activity levels in England are alarmingly low, and the drop in activity from the ages of 5 to 12 is concerning. Children who get enough physical activity are mentally and physically healthier, and have all round better development into adulthood – getting into the habit of doing short bursts of activity early can deliver lifelong benefits. This programme is part of our work to help children get the right amount of physical activity, both in school and out, as set out in the Childhood Obesity Plan.

The survey also identified the main barriers to physical activity and reveals that the worry of ‘not being very good’ was one of the most common, affecting 22% of children. This increases with age as it affects just 17% of 5 year olds, compared to 29% of 11 year olds.

The 10 Minute Shake Ups programme focuses on fun activities all children can do and is being supported by a number of Team GB athletes, including Olympic swimmer Keri-anne Payne, who have lent their voices to the campaign to encourage more children to take part and illustrate the benefits of physical activity.

Keri-anne Payne, Olympic marathon swimmer and ambassador of SportsAid, said:

Physical activity has always been an important part of my life, as I started swimming from a very young age. But being active is not just for Olympians, it’s for everyone. The 10 Minute Shake Ups provide a load of fun activities to get kids moving more. Anyone can try them and they are a great way for kids, their friends and the whole family to get moving throughout the summer.

10 Minute Shake Ups is run in collaboration with Disney and Sport England. The new Shake Ups will feature characters from Disney Pixar’s latest animation Cars 3, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Frozen Fever, and Zootropolis, as well as the stars of The Lodge.

Marianthi O’Dwyer, Vice President and Head of Disney Healthy Living UK said:

We know Disney stories and characters can help inspire children and families to be more active by making it simple and fun. As part of Disney’s global healthy living commitment, since 2006 we have been looking at ways to support families to live more healthily.

Last year’s successful Finding Dory ‘just keep moving’ campaign with the ASA and Change4Life saw over 70,000 families take part in family swim sessions at hundreds of pools across the UK. Highlighting the power of partnership, we are excited to continue working together with Change4Life on the 10 Minute Shake Up programme to encourage children to be more active.

Sport England will help families try new sports and physical activities locally, whether at their local park leisure centre or through a well-known sport.

Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director of Children and Young People said:

Tackling inactivity is a key part of Sport England’s strategy Towards An Active Nation, and we’re supporting families and children to get active together, using National Lottery funding. We know that parents can find getting their kids to be active a challenge. That’s why we’re proud to be supporting the Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Ups with Disney, which uses storytelling to create a fun, and imaginative way for children and their parents to get moving, perfectly timed for the summer holidays.

Last year, the 10 Minute Shake Ups programme helped over a million children get more active. When children return to school in September, more activities will be released on the Change4Life schools website to encourage them to carry on being active both in and outside the classroom.

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1 Comment

  1. Maybe the role of competition in primary schools needs to be examined, in driving out any enjoyment of being active.. and the role of play – more play time in which children can be active, more space and more outdoor learning to encourage active learning over learning at desks… maybe the impending obesoty epidemic and associated NHS bill will get the government thinking differently ….. there is always hope!…

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