Half of the UK’s 7-year-olds achieve less than the recommended hour a day of exercise, a new study finds.
The study, carried out by University College London researchers, monitored the activity of 6,500 children between 2008 and 2009. Children wore an accelerometer attached to their waist that measured their exercise levels over the course of a week.
Researchers found that just 51% of children achieved an hour or more of physical activity each day. The figure was lower for girls at 38% compared with boys at 63%.
The marked difference between girls and boys has led researchers to suggest that sport and activities need to be made more attractive to girls.
“The school playground is an important starting point. Often you will find it dominated by boys playing football,” says Prof Carol Dezateux, one of the study’s authors.
Researchers also highlighted the need for quick action as most children are likely to become less active over the age of 7.
“There is still much to do to keep children and young people active as they grow older, especially girls,” says Dr Ann Hoskins of Public Health England.
“The new school year is the perfect time to make healthy changes, swapping short car or bus journeys with walking or scooting to school.”