Children are still more sedentary during the week, according to new research, even if children’s physical activity levels in the UK have largely reverted to pre-pandemic levels. By the summer of last year, 41 percent of kids had achieved the required daily allowance of an hour of moderate to strenuous physical activity, according to the study, which was conducted under the direction of the University of Bristol. Even though this is an improvement over the Covid-19 pandemic’s immediate aftermath, when only 37 percent of children were found to be fulfilling this goal, most children were still falling short.
Children are more sedentary during the week since public lockdown restrictions were lifted, spending an extra 13 minutes on average daily being inactive according to the findings. Lead author Russ Jago, Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health, said: “It’s encouraging that on average children’s physical activity levels are back to where they were before the pandemic.” But it’s taken nearly a year since the last public lockdown was lifted, and children’s increased sedentary time during the week has persisted, which is an area of concern for policymakers, schools, and parents.”
The study, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, measured the physical activity levels of 393 children aged 10 to 11 years old between June and December 2021 and a further 436 children of the same age between January and July last year. Children and a parent or carer wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity and answered a questionnaire. Participants came from 28 schools in the Bristol area. This information was compared with data from nearly 1,300 children and their parents from 50 schools in the same area before the pandemic.
On average, parents were found to participate in eight minutes more moderate to vigorous physical activity at weekends than before the pandemic. Physical activity is vital for children`s health and well-being. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend all children and young people should take part in an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. This is an activity that gets children slightly hot, slightly sweaty, and out of breath.
The Chief Medical Officers also advise children should limit the amount of time they spend being sedentary, which means sitting or lying down, except when sleeping, for extended periods. Co-author Dr Ruth Salway, Senior Research Associate in Epidemiology and Statistics, said: “The findings suggest physical activity is susceptible to disruptions in provision and leisure opportunities, and highlight that still not enough 10 to 11-year-olds meet the guidelines. On the flip side, it’s great to see how the pandemic may have encouraged parents to be more active and it looks like these habits may be continuing.”