Ensuring children lead active lives

Ensuring children lead active lives

The latest Active Lives survey from Sport England, published this week, suggests that there has been a partial recovery in adult activity levels following a large drop caused by the Covid pandemic. However, more than 12 million adults are currently classed as inactive. The overall figures also “hide stark inequalities”. As with the recently published figures on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, the survey results raise big questions about public health and social justice. This particular survey focuses on adults, but we have to think and plan long-term. We need to ensure that children are encouraged to lead active lives, understand the importance of participating in regular physical activity and have regular opportunities to do so. Not only is it good for them here and now, it will also help them learn habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Active Lives survey

Sport England publishes Active Lives surveys twice a year. It tracks the activity levels of 175,000 respondents. The latest survey shows that:

  • 27% of adults are inactive – defined as taking part in less than 30 minutes of activity a week on average
  • 12% are fairly active – more than 30 minutes but less than 150 minutes a week
  • 61% are active – more than 150 minutes a week

Walking for leisure has increased but other activities – walking or cycling to get to a specific place (‘active travel’), fitness, cycling for leisure, running, swimming and sport – have all seen participation levels fall.

The survey also notes that activity levels for those aged 16–34 continue to fall “at a worrying rate” and that the overall numbers “hide stark inequalities”:

Overall population numbers hide stark inequalities with women, those from ethnically diverse communities, those living in more deprived areas, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions still less likely to be active than others, and the pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities for the least affluent, Asian people, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions in particular. 

The gap in activity levels between the haves and have nots has also widened during the pandemic, with those that live in deprived areas seeing bigger drops in activity levels than those in more well-off areas. For example, activity fell 4.4% for those living in the most deprived areas (IMD 1-3) compared to pre-pandemic compared to a 1.2% for those in the least deprived areas (IMD 8-10).

from the latest Sport England Active Lives survey

Active lives and Life-Based Learning

We have highlighted the work of Sport England in previous blogs:

Developing children and young people’s physical literacy is essential in creating a positive and lifelong relationship with activity and without it many will not enjoy the health and social benefits associated with living active lives.

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive, Sport England

Tim’s message reflects the thinking behind Life-Based Learning – an approach to education and development for children and young people in which the life challenges that we all face, now and in the future, become the focus of a fully rounded, life-based approach to learning.

The final blog in this short series on physical health and wellbeing will examine in more detail what a Life-Based Learning approach to children’s education and development involves.

Read More About Physical Health

Image at the head of this article by Raman Talpada from Pixabay.

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