Report: 91% of UK children not getting enough exercise

How Sustrans wants to get more kids riding to school

Sustrans is calling on schools and local authorities in England to use the money from a levy on soft drinks to help more children walk, scoot and cycle the school journey after it was revealed that less than one in 10 UK kids are getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

A YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Sustrans, surveyed 1,370 parents of 5- to 16-year-olds about their children’s daily levels of physical activity.

19% of those surveyed said their child took part in 60 minutes of physical activity a day two days a week, while 13% said their children did so one day a week or less.

According to government guidelines, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day “to maintain a basic level of health”.

The survey also found that the number of children cycling the whole way to and from school is low at just 3%.

Walking, scooting or cycling to school would help children get their recommended hour of physical activity a day and maintain a healthy weight. However, parents have cited the need for improved infrastructure, such as wider pavements and better crossings, and enhanced road safety among their top priorities before allowing their child to walk, scoot or cycle to school.

Xavier Brice, Sustrans’ CEO, said: “The average primary school journey is 1.6 miles - a distance that can be walked, scooted or cycled as an easy way of building more physical activity into our busy lives.

Now more than ever we need to see more children walking, scooting or cycling to school

“We’re calling on schools in England to use some of the funding from the doubled School Sport Premium and the Healthy Pupils’ Capital Programme derived from the sugar tax to boost levels of active travel on the school journey.

“Local authorities need to play their part, too, and invest in safer and better infrastructure, if we want to reduce the high levels of inactivity of our children,” he added.

Cycling is a great form of exercise for kids that also helps build their confidence
Cycling is a great form of exercise for kids that also helps build their confidence

The survey has been released to coincide with the launch The Big Pedal 2017, the UK’s biggest challenge to get more young people cycling and scooting to school.

The Big Pedal 2017, which runs until Friday 31 March, will see more than 1,560 schools across the UK leave their cars at home and get on their bikes and scooters for their journeys to and from school.

Double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand is supporting The Big Pedal for the second year running. She said: “Now more than ever we need to see more children walking, scooting or cycling to school.

“Not only is cycling great for young people’s health, it also builds confidence and independence, and I’ve got lots of happy memories of cycling to school when I was a kid.

“The safer and more comfortable children feel on their bikes, the more they will enjoy it and the more likely they are to continue to cycle throughout their lives.”

Paul Douglas

Global Editor-in-Chief
Happy on both pedal-powered and petrol-powered bikes, Paul joins BikeRadar having just returned to the UK after an 18-month stint working in Berlin. Now back in the West Country, it's a welcome return to country lanes and gravel paths instead of hacking through the urban traffic.
  • Current Bikes: Felt Verza 10, Suzuki DR-Z400SM
  • Beer of Choice: Berliner Kindl
  • Location: Bath, UK

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