Are children getting enough exercise?

Photo: Chesterfield SSP

Are children getting enough exercise?

According to a recent survey, 77% of children are doing no more than four hours of out of school exercise each week. The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Tesco, is alarming in that many parents are unaware of how much activity their child should be doing to stay healthy.

The problem is far worse among poorer families, with around nine in ten children in low income households doing even less. The survey of over 2,000 participants revealed that 85% of parents did not know how much physical activity their children should be doing. Of that 85%, more than three quarters believed that children only needed to do around 30 minutes of exercise a day.

The survey reflected badly on schools as well, with 26% of parents believing their child is only doing a maximum of 50 minutes of physical activity in school each week. In addition, 41% believed their children were only exercising for a maximum of 100 minutes in school, still falling below the recommended guidelines.

According to Public Health England “all children and young people (aged 5 to 18) should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day”.

The risks associated with sedentary behavior can be severe and long-term, with many cases of Type-2 diabetes and heart disease linked to inactivity. It is important that children get the recommended daily and weekly amount of exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle in the future. But whose responsibility is it to ensure that a child gets enough exercise?

The same survey found that one third of parents believed it was the school’s responsibility to make sure that children meet the recommended guidelines for exercise. Others that felt a shared responsibility cited cost as a major barrier when it comes to extra-curricular activity for their children.

Ensuring that children get enough exercise and live a balanced and healthy lifestyle is never easy, and it is a joint responsibility between schools and parents. For information on our school-based events, please see the events tab on this website. And to find sport and leisure clubs near you, click here.

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