A third of children in England “Not Active Enough” Leading Survey Reveals

One in three children in England does fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day – half the amount recommended by government guidelines, a report by Sport England suggests.

The survey is the largest ever of its kind and gives comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity, both in and out of school.

Sport Englands Active Lives Children and Young People Survey shows that around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, however of that group, only 1.2 million (17.5%) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.

A further 1.7 million (23.9%) are fairly active, doing between 30 and 59 minutes of physical activity a day.

The report is based on responses from more than 130,000 children aged 5-16 in England during the academic year September 2017-July 2018.

And results show some significant inequalities in activity levels, based on family income.

In total, 39% of children in the least affluent families do fewer than 30 minutes of activity a day, compared to 26% of children from the most affluent families.

And while 77% of all children can swim 25 metres unaided by the time they leave primary school, that figure drops to 42% for children from the least affluent families and is at 86% for the most affluent.

Other findings include:

  • There’s not a lot of difference in the amount of sport and physical activity that takes place inside school, compared to activity levels outside of school, so both have a critical role to play. With 22% of children active for at least 30 minutes per day outside of school, while 28% of children do so in school.
  • Activity levels peak at the end of primary school to the beginning of secondary school, but no age group reaches a majority of children doing the recommended levels of 60 minutes per day, every day.
  • The type of activity preferred changes as children get older. ‘Active play’, such as tag or scootering, is the most popular form of activity for younger age groups, with team sports growing in popularity as children get older. By school Years 7 and 8, team sports are the most popular and remain so through to age 16.
  • There is a gender divide between activity levels of boys and girls. Boys are more likely to be active every day than girls – 20% (boys) versus 14% (girls). This difference increases as girls get older, with a large gap opening from the end of primary school (Years 5 and 6).

Get the full report from Sport England HERE

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