Only 1 in 3 Children Get Enough Exercise Throughout the Week

Only 1 in 3 Children Get Enough Exercise Throughout the Week
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A healthy diet and lots of physical activity during childhood go a long way toward a healthy adulthood. Unfortunately, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter in England shows that only 1 in 3 children get enough daily physical activity. [1]

Physical activity guidelines state that children ages 5-18 should be engaging in at least 1 hour of “moderate-to-vigorous physical activity” each day.

Researcher Dr. Lisa Price said:

“We do know that most children aren’t doing enough physical activity and that this has consequences not just in childhood, but in adulthood, too.”

Read: This is How Much Exercise Kids Need

Price and her colleagues are the first team of researchers to examine children’s physical activity levels over an entire week. This allowed them to gather more comprehensive data.

For the study, Price and her team had 800 5th-graders between the ages of 9 and 10 wear activity monitor watches for an entire week and go about their regular activities.

The difference in physical activity levels between boys and girls was striking.

  • Over 5% of boys hit their daily activity target.
  • Only 1% of girls hit their daily activity target.
  • When taking into account the total amount of physical activity throughout a week, almost a third (30.6%) exercised for an average of 60 minutes per day.
  • Overall, just 3.2% of the students spent 60 minutes each and every day being physically active. [1]

Sadly, the team believes the findings suggest that children get far less activity than researchers previously thought.

Price said:

“Previous studies based on average activity are likely to have overestimated the percentage of children meeting the recommendations.”

She added: [2]

“Our findings suggest that just under 1/3 of children are achieving an average of 60 minutes per day, but only 3.2% meet the 60-minute target every day.

We were surprised to find such a big difference.

We don’t know whether averaging 60 minutes a day will be different in terms of health outcomes compared to 60 minutes daily – more research is needed to look into this.”

Read: AAP – It’s Time for Doctors to Prescribe Play

The research was conducted as part of the Healthy Lifestyles Program, a school-based obesity prevention trial that encouraged parents and children to lead healthier lifestyles. The study is published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.


[1] Consumer Affairs

[2] News-Medical