Research suggests modern lifestyles preventing families from being active
While almost 100% of parents believe it is important for children to be active, a third (33%) are underestimating how much exercise their children need. Delving even further, one in five (20%) believe just 30 minutes a day is sufficient – half the amount recommended by NHS guidelines.
The figures, unveiled in the Getting Kids Moving report commissioned by Ferrero’s +Sport Move and Learn Project in partnership with Leeds Beckett, are being released in order to better understand the challenges faced by today’s families by drawing attention to the biggest barriers to physical activity at home, school and at play.
- Busy lifestyles are limiting physical activity opportunities for three quarters (75%) of families
- A third of parents underestimate children’s daily activity needs
- Heavy and unregulated use of technology is a key driver of inactivity in children
While parents are identified as having the most influence on children’s behaviours, an overwhelming majority of parents (90%) feel schools are key providers when it comes to teaching and encouraging children to be active. As a result of time pressures at home, the majority of parents are increasingly relying more heavily on the school environment to facilitate opportunities for games and activities. Nearly two thirds (63%) look to schools to organise physical activities through after school clubs while a similar proportion (61%) feel schools should be linking up with local sports teams and activity groups to offer more opportunities for exercise.
Another major factor limiting children’s participation in physical activity is the use of personal technology. The lure of playing on smartphones, laptops and watching television means they have overtaken physical play as the most dominant form of activity during free time. Almost four in five children (79%) use screens during free time in the week, rising to 81% at the weekend – leaving even less time for physical activities. Yet, while almost a quarter of parents recognise that reducing screen time would help improve activity levels in their children, one in five (20%) fail to impose limits on their children’s screen use.
Helen Ingle, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion at Leeds Beckett University and lead researcher on the Getting Kids Moving project, said: “While parents recognise the importance of physical activity, for many time-poor families it is simply another addition to an already busy to do list. By delving deeper into the barriers preventing children and families from living more active lifestyles, the aim of this report is to offer some practical recommendations and advice for families to encourage activity among children.”
Commenting on the report findings, mother-of-three and former track and field team GB Olympian, Sally Gunnell, who is also an Ambassador for the Kinder + Sport programme, said: “Active children are more likely to grow into active adults, so it’s important that we address the obstacles to physical activity from a young age to ensure the benefits of an active lifestyle are long-term. With the pressures of modern lifestyles, and the rising popularity of personal technology increasingly encroaching on free time, it’s more important than ever that families make time for physical activities.
“The Getting Kids Moving report highlights a number of key areas for improvement, from getting children away from all-consuming screens to building on the good foundations laid by schools in encouraging different physical activities and inspiring children to enjoy being active. Both parents and teachers are important role models for inspiring children to embrace healthy lifestyles and enjoy being active.”
The report builds on the work Kinder + Sport does with schools across the UK through its + Sport Move & Learn programme, which helps educate children about the importance of exercise and balanced diets for a positive lifestyle. The national school-based education programme is delivered in partnership with the Football League Trust and facilitated by a network of Football League Clubs in the UK and Ireland, with a range of players from each football team acting as ambassadors to help support and inspire children through a series of practical and classroom-based sessions. The educational element of the programme covers a range of topics related to the body, including diet and nutrition, hydration and the importance of exercise.