Majority of children failed to meet recommended exercise levels in 2020
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the activity levels of young people has been laid bare in a major new report, which shows that more than half of the nation’s children failed to meet recommended activity levels last year.
Underlining the importance of The Telegraph’s Keep Kids Active campaign, Sport England’s annual Active Lives survey also details the specific impact of lockdown restrictions between May and July, when more than a million fewer children and young people took part in sport.
It also specifically found that 200,000 more boys were failing to meet the chief medical officer’s guidance of at least an hour of daily activity in that period.
The report looks at the entire year from September 2019 until July 2020 and, perhaps most alarming of all, also recorded that 200,000 more children were defined as “less active”, with almost a third not even managing 30 minutes of daily activity.
The drops in activity levels, which took in weather-induced disruptions as well as the start of Covid-19 restrictions from March, were especially pronounced among black and less affluent children.
There were also specific drops in the numbers of children who can now swim at least a length, with organised sport and team activities the hardest hit.
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On a more positive note, the numbers of children walking, jogging or cycling did increase and girls, particularly those of a teenage age, were relatively less impacted compared to the previous year. Indeed, girls in years nine, 10 and 11 were actually more likely to be active even during the lockdown period between May and July as restrictions eased.
However, they were starting from a lower base point than boys.
Lisa O’Keefe, the Insight Director at Sport England, said that the Covid-19 disruption had “an unprecedented impact upon physical literacy, with changes to perceived competitive, confidence and enjoyment of concern going forward”. However, she did also say that overall reductions had been “minimised” following a range of campaigns and interventions.