Whilst it’s hardly new to hear that young children are not getting enough exercise, Bluecrest Health Screening is concerned to read new research suggesting that girls are less active than boys with only 1 in 3 managing an hour’s exercise or more daily. With good and bad habits formed at a young age, it could spell future health problems unless addressed.
Furthermore, with an ageing population already putting strain on resources and a culture seemingly destined to treat illnesses rather than try and prevent illness through lifestyle change and health screening it perhaps poses an ominous picture of the UK’s future.
How Much Exercise do Children Need?
Overall only 51% of UK 7 year olds managed an hours exercise daily: 38% girls and 63% boys. The research also found that half of 7 year olds were also sedentary for an average of 6.4 hours or more per day.
Nearly 6,500 children were given accelerometers to wear which tracked their exercise levels throughout the day. 36,309 days of data were provided for the Institute of Child Health, University College London, to undertake their analysis.
Published in the BMJ online journal, children of Indian origin living in Northern Ireland are among the least active group. Northern Ireland as a whole being the least active – 43% managing 1 hour exercise daily – and Scottish children being the most likely to achieve the target (52.5%). 52% of children in England also managed the target however it varied across regions.
The researchers wrote: “The results of our study provide a useful baseline and strongly suggest that contemporary UK children are insufficiently active, implying that effort is needed to boost physical activity among young people to the level appropriate for good health.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We have committed to giving primary schools £300m of ring-fenced funding to improve PE and sport, and help all pupils to develop healthy, active lifestyles, and have invested a further £3m to extend Change4Life School Sports Clubs to areas with the highest childhood obesity.”