Children are less active than before lockdown

Research from the Youth Sport Trust has found that more than two in three parents say they have seen their children’s physical activity levels decrease during lockdown.

Published ahead of schools reopening, the research also found that only a minority of parents, 21 per cent, believe their children are currently active for at least the recommended average of 60 minutes every day. The organisation found a worrying lack of awareness among parents as to how much physical activity children should be doing.

The Youth Sport Trust has said that the findings show the urgent need for a renewed focus on sport and physical education when pupils return next week. Four in five parents say it is important that schools ensure every pupil is active for 30 minutes every day and 78 per cent say they should have at least two hours of weekly physical education.

The Youth Sport Trust and other sporting organisation have called for the remainder of this academic year in schools to be positioned as an active recovery term for young people, characterised by a renewed focus on sport, physical activity and physical education, and time outdoors.

Ali Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “We know that the last year has taken a significant toll on young people’s wellbeing. That so many parents have seen a decline in young people’s engagement in physical activity is extremely concerning. It is especially worrying that as many as one in ten parents believe their children are now completely inactive.

“Active young people are healthier, happier and better equipped to learn. Next week pupils will be returning to the classroom in need of support rebuilding their confidence, sense of belonging and wellbeing. After a year of huge disruption and inactivity, schools’ essential role in getting them active and nurturing their enjoyment of sport and movement again will never have been more important.

“Schools and teachers who have so brilliantly kept things going during a turbulent year, play an essential role in nurturing the healthy habits and lifestyles that are so crucial to young people’s development. To support schools and teachers, the Youth Sport Trust and partners including national governing bodies of sport, charities and activity providers have united behind the concept of an Active Recovery term, characterised by daily physical activity, time outdoors and a greater focus on physical education and sport. Together we will be making ideas, content and resources which support engagement, learning and recovery, easy to access and free to use.

“In the longer term, we continue to call on the government to make a bold and courageous commitment to a national ambition for our young people to be the happiest and most active in the world. This should be underpinned by a renewed national strategy to tackle inactivity and recover young people’s well-being.”

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