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Fewer than one in five children in Norfolk meeting recommended activity levels

PUBLISHED: 14:57 07 December 2018

Around one in three children in Norfolk are doing fewer than 30 minutes of exercise a day. Picture: Nick Butcher

Around one in three children in Norfolk are doing fewer than 30 minutes of exercise a day. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Around one in three children in Norfolk are doing fewer than 30 minutes of exercise a day, with even lower numbers doing the governmental guideline of one hour of activity a day.

Around one in three children in Norfolk are doing fewer than 30 minutes of exercise a day. Picture: Jerry DawsAround one in three children in Norfolk are doing fewer than 30 minutes of exercise a day. Picture: Jerry Daws

Some 1,702 children in Norfolk between the ages of five and 16 took part in Sport England’s first Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, to find out how active they were both inside and outside of school.

Figures released on December 6 revealed around 18pc of children did one hour of sport and activity everyday, with an average of 33pc doing fewer than 30 minutes a day.

But with children spending most of their day sat in a classroom, there are not many opportunities for a child to be physically active, said Professor Andy Jones, from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.

He said children are still more active than adults but activity levels decline during adolescence, adding: “They are not going out and playing anymore, and are likely to be driven around and use motorised transport, but once you get out to work you are moving a lot more.”

Professor Jones said one of the biggest changes in the last few decades is the decline in children walking or cycling to school, which had a “substantial contribution to children’s activity.”

As society does away with gender roles, both parents who work and drive drop off their kids to school out of convenience.

And while the emergence of the internet and smartphones may play a role, Professor Jones said it was not a significant factor, adding: “In the past, more kids would have been reading, but you don’t hear about reading as a bad thing to do.”

The most active children - more than one hour of activity everyday - were in Norwich - 25pc compared to just 13pc in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, and averages of 16-18pc in Broadland, Breckland and North Norfolk.

There were higher numbers of children doing fewer than 30 minutes of activity a day across the county - ranging between 27-44pc - but more than half of the children surveyed were doing little to no activity in their day-to-day lives.

Nationally, the online survey of 130,000 children found one in three did fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day, with girls being less likely to be as active as boys and 13-16 year-olds being the least active age group.

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