Almost a third of South Tyneside kids active for less than half an hour a day

Pupils during a physical education lesson. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images
Pupils during a physical education lesson. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

Almost a third of children and young people in South Tyneside do less than half an hour of physical activity a day, according to new research.

The Active Lives Children and Young People survey, published by Sport England, found that an estimated 5,200 children aged between five and 16 in the borough do less than 30 minutes of exercise a day on average.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

A further 4,500 manage an average of at least half an hour a day, but less than an hour.

The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines state that children should get at least an hour of physical activity every day – but 82% of five to 16-year-olds in South Tyneside fail to hit this target.

The survey is the largest of its kind, based on responses from over 100,000 five to 16-year-olds during the academic year 2017-18.

Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “These figures are worrying but a great deal of work is being done to help our young people choose a healthy lifestyle and this is reflected in the data that shows South Tyneside has the lowest percentage of inactive children in the North East.

“Every single child in South Tyneside now attends a ‘healthy school’ where health and wellbeing is promoted and children are encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle. Many of our schools now promote activities such as the Daily Mile where children are invited to run or walk one mile a day.

“Furthermore we have invested in state-of-the-art leisure facilities in the borough which have seen a significant rise in visitor numbers in recent years.

“We have also developed a borough wide physical activity strategy with the purpose of having a system wide, strategic approach to increasing physical activity levels in South Tyneside. Increasing physical activity opportunities in the early years is one of the five key focus areas of the strategy which will be launched soon.”

Anything that raises the heart rate counts as physical activity – from organised team sports to playing outside.

It found that a third of children in England don’t manage an average of half an hour of activity a day, and less than 20% met the Chief Medical Officer’s target of an hour.

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said he was calling for system-wide change and “a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children”.

He said: “Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and Government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity.

“These results tell us that what is currently being done to support them is not enough and change is required.”

Sports Minister Mims Davies said that the number of young people not doing enough exercise is “simply unacceptable”.

She said: “We know that an active child is a happier child, and efforts must be stepped up to encourage young people to live healthy, active lives.”

Government guidelines state that children and young people should get half their daily hour of physical activity at school, and half out of school.