Drop in children exercising is ’concerning’

Children ‘exercise less as they get older’, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Public Health England and Disney, has found that the number of children doing an hour of exercise a day falls by 40 per cent between the ages of five and 12.

By the final year of primary school, just 17 per cent of pupils are doing the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and more than a third of children in England are overweight by the time they leave year six.

A spokesman for Public Health England has described the drop as ‘concerning’.

More than 1,000 children aged five to 11 were questioned, and the survey found that physical activity affected children’s emotional well-being. Parents recognised that being active made their children feel happier (79 per cent), more confident (72 per cent), and more sociable (74 per cent).

The survey also found that children’s overall happiness decreased with age, with only 64 per cent of five- and six-year-olds saying they always felt happy, compared with 48 per cent of 11-year-olds.

According to an NHS report published last December, just 23 per cent of boys and 20 per cent of girls between the ages of five and 15 meet the national recommended level of activity.

Eustace de Sousa, Public Health England, said: “Children's physical activity levels in England are alarmingly low, and the drop in activity from the ages of five 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.”

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