Is your child getting enough exercise? Survey reveals most aren’t in the south-east

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children  Start of Life
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children  Start of Life

More than three-quarters of children in the South-East aren’t doing nearly enough physical activity, according to a worrying new study.

The new research into child activity rates in the south-east has found that 78 per cent of children are doing no more than four hours of out of school exercise each week.

The survey of over 2,000 parents, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Diabetes UK and Tesco, also revealed that very few parents in the south-east know how much activity their children should be doing, with 81 per cent admitting that they don’t know what the recommended guidelines are. More than three-quarters of parents (77%) underestimate the amount of exercise their child needs, believing they only need around 30 minutes a day.

According to Public Health England: “All children and young people {aged five to 18} should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day”.

A total of 37 per cent of parents say their child does no more than an hour a week, with almost a fifth (19%) saying they do none at all, putting them at increased risk of being overweight and developing serious long term health conditions in the future, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Parents stated cost to be the biggest barrier to their children doing more exercise outside of school. Parents also highlight that they would most like to take children swimming (24%), martial arts (15) and to gymnastics (14%) if they could afford to.

More than a quarter of parents (35%) believe the responsibility to ensure children get enough exercise lies with their children’s school. The 2002 Education Act states that the Secretary of State is barred from ordering any school to devote a certain period of time to any particular subject, including physical education.

Catherine Kelly, Director of Prevention, Survival & Support at the British Heart Foundation, explained; “Being inactive can lead to a multitude of health problems for children, including an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life. The benefits of physical activity outside of the classroom and within the community are vast, and as well as benefitting their heart health, it’s fun too!

“That’s why we are working with Diabetes UK and Tesco to deliver projects in areas most at need across the UK, helping communities to get active, lower their risk of developing these conditions and ultimately benefit the health of children in the future.”

The National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, BHF and Tesco was announced earlier this year. Its aim is to help save lives, by helping millions of people to eat better and get active, reducing their risk of serious ill-health in the future. This will help reduce people’s risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, both of which are largely preventable through healthy lifestyle choices. Through the money raised by Tesco colleagues and customers, the partnership will deliver a variety of preventative and informative initiatives.

For more information about the National Charity Partnership visit www.tescocharitypartnership.org.uk.

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