Experts are extremely concerned that the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on children’s physical activity levels. New figures from Sport England show the majority of young people failed to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise in the 2019/20 school year.
There were 2.3 million children classed as ‘inactive’ as a result of lockdown restrictions, which means they were not doing even 30 minutes of exercise per day. The survey showed the pandemic has also intensified existing participation inequalities, with a 9% drop in activity levels by children and young people from a black background. By contrast children from the most affluent families remain the most active.
There was a notable difference between gender too, with a significant fall in activity among boys, who suffered from the stopping of team sports, while girls retained roughly their same activity levels, adapting well to alternative activities such as keep fit and walking.
As schools were closed, the most significant reduction was a drop of 16% in children taking part in sporting activities, such as team sports, athletics, running and swimming, but this was countered by a significant increase in walking, cycling and fitness activities carried out by children, while in lockdown but not in school.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on children and young people’s engagement in sport and physical activity and the report reminds us that it has not impacted everyone equally.
Now that schools have reopened efforts are being made to catch up academic standards but equally important, is the clear need to get children back exercising and maintaining their interests in daily exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.