“If we took the least fit child from a school class tested 20 years ago, they would be one of the five fittest children in a class today.” says Jack Shakespeare, Head of not-for-profit ukactive Kids.

“The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance on physical activity for children is not as widely known as it should be: kids from five to 18 need 60 minutes of exercise a day.

"That doesn’t mean standing up to get the remote control, but moderate to vigorous exercise that leaves you at least slightly out of breath. Children can get it from just running around and playing games, it doesn’t have to be a formal sport.”

"Kids from five to 18 need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day."

As well as impairing simple enjoyment of life, a sedentary lifestyle makes a child vulnerable to diseases such as type-II diabetes which can lead to serious, long-term complications.

“The problem is that kids aren’t learning the basics at an early age,” says Shakespeare. “We need to get them confident, learning the right movements and skills, putting them in situations where they have to find an active solution rather than just looking things up online.”

 

"Children actually lose 80 per cent of their fitness over the school holidays."

It’s essential for all families to be aware: recent research shows that children lose 80 per cent of their fitness over the school holidays, with those in lower socio-economic groups disproportionately affected.  Shakespeare encourages parents to keep their kids active at weekends and in the holidays, and to ensure that both girls and boys are as physically ‘literate’ as possible. “Making use of open sports and leisure facilities and local activity groups can help. We all have a responsibility to challenge barriers stopping certain groups from accessing healthy activities.”