Children's Activity Levels Negatively Impacted by Pandemic
Posted: Fri, 10 Dec 2021 09:20
Children and young people's activity levels continue to be negatively impacted by the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at a time when getting active is more important than ever for their mental and physical wellbeing.
These findings come from Sport England through their release of the Active Lives Children's Survey. The annual survey provides the most comprehensive insight and data into the physical activity levels of children and young people (aged 5-16) across England.
This data shows that while there has been no overall decrease on activity levels compared to the previous academic year, existing inequalities have widened and enjoyment and confidence in taking part is down, and there are new short-term issues that need to be considered so they do not become long-term trends.
Positively, the results provide further evidence that active children have higher levels of mental wellbeing and illustrate the role sport and physical activity can play in supporting them amid rising levels of loneliness and declining mental health during the pandemic. We also know that active children do better at school in attainment and achievement – so there's a dual benefit to taking part amid ongoing uncertainty. There are signs of recovering activity levels as restrictions have eased but not all children and young people have been affected or are recovering at the same rate.
Concerningly, existing inequalities have been widened with some groups hit much harder by the pandemic than others. For example, children from the least affluent families remain the least active – with this gap widening across the pandemic – and there was again a stark ethnicity gap, with only 36% of Black children getting active compared to 45% of all children and young people.
Concerningly, children and young people's positive attitudes towards sport and physical activity fell markedly over this period, with enjoyment and confidence seeing the largest falls. We know that these are two key reasons that children and young people choose to participate in sport and activity, and if these do not increase there is a risk that we will see poorer health and wellbeing outcomes in the next generation as a result of less physically active lifestyles.
Building positive experiences for young people and tackling inequalities to support the people and communities, across the country that need it the most, no matter their background, are key focuses of our Uniting the Movement strategy.
George Cull, Head of Development at North Yorkshire Sport, said "These results do not make for good reading. There have been fantastic efforts to support children to be active but these are not going far enough to reach those young people who may find it harder to be active. This is bigger than any single intervention or organisation, it requires the collective efforts of all of those interested in the health and wellbeing of our young people to work together to design movement and activity in to daily life."