Sport England is behind a ground-breaking new survey that explores the activity levels of children in the country.
The research has revealed that 43.3 per cent of children in England lead active lives, which means they do more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day. However, 32.9 per cent of the youngsters surveyed do less than 30 minutes of activity a day, indicating that there is more to be done to make the country’s children healthier.
A further 23.9 per cent of children were described as “fairly active” in the report, doing between 30 and 59 minutes of exercise a day.
What’s also interesting about the research is that it explores how children get their activity in each day.
The most likely way for kids to burn off some energy is through active play and informal activity, showing just how important the time spent outside of school is to a child’s physical wellbeing.
Those aged seven to nine get 65 per cent of their activity in this way, while 70 per cent of youngsters in the nine to 11 age group boost their activity levels through this means. If you’re working in au pair jobs, you may want to look at how you can encourage the children you’re looking after to be active through their games.
For both age groups, team sports were named as the next most-likely way for children to get their activity levels up, while the third most popular way in which children exercise is through running, athletics or multi-sports, the research revealed.
Interestingly, the younger age group is more likely to engage in swimming activities (33 per cent), compared to the older children (25 per cent).
Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive at Sport England, said that the research should act as “a big wake-up call” that highlights how much more needs to be done to encourage young people to be active in their day-to-day lives.
He stressed that this is the responsibility of parents, schools, the government and the leisure and sports industries.
“We all care about the health and wellbeing of our children. These results tell us that what is currently being done to support them is not enough and change is required,” Mr Hollingsworth asserted.
Sport England is currently working on a follow-up report that will provide an insight into children’s attitudes to sport and activity, providing a clearer picture of what they do and don’t like about being active.
This research is due to be published in March of next year, with the organisation hoping that it will help them to provide solutions that meet the needs of young people.
Encouraging children to be active has the added bonus of taking them away from digital devices too. Earlier this year, research carried out in the USA found that allowing young children to spend too much time on mobile phones and tablets can result in them developing mental health problems when they get older.
The study revealed that youngsters who spend up to seven hours per day staring at screens are twice as likely to develop anxiety or depression when they get older as those who only use screens for one hour per day.