How a Lack of Physical Activity Affects Children’s Bodies

A lack of physical activity is a real issue affecting the children of today. Adults should exercise about five times a week to stay healthy. That’s what we’re told. And it’s what we try to forget as we swap the treadmill for the sofa after a hard day at work. But how about children? With their bodies still growing, getting the right amount of running, jumping and climbing is even more important. 

How much Physical Activity is recommended?

The NHS recommends children between 5 to 18 should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, including:

  • Moderate activity like cycling and playground games
  • Vigorous activity like running or tennis

On three days a week, their exercise should also include muscle-strengthening exercises. For adolescents this may be push ups or pull ups, while for younger children running and jumping activities will probably be more suitable. Many of these activities can take place in the school playground while the children are playing. Nobody wants to make a six-year old do push ups, do they?

Are Kids getting enough?

When most adults think back to their childhood, they remember activity day after day – only ending when their parents called them in for dinner. Unfortunately, children now have immersive video games and smart phones to keep them occupied from a young age. Exercise has become something of an afterthought. In fact, the rise of entertainment technology is a major factor in a lack of physical activity in children today.

An international study gave England and Wales a D minus, with Scotland graded F in their comparison of 38 countries. It revealed that, among 11-15-year-olds, just 15 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys get the recommended exercise per day in Britain.

Lack of physical activity, timber ball wall, ball games, Playcubed, Valley Provincial, Primary school playground, recreation area, playground installation, playground construction, bespoke playground design, playground equipment, inclusive play

The Physical & Mental Effects

So, what’s the result of this “couch potato” lifestyle?

Physically, it can result in a whole range of problems as children grow. They suffer from weak bones and muscles, because they’re not getting that essential strengthening from regular play. There’s also a risk that children could develop similar problems as some adults who don’t exercise, with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels.

But it’s not just physical effects. Experts suggest physical activity is key in children’s mental wellbeing too. It builds confidence, reduces anxiety and develops key cognitive skills. All in all, this gives children a healthy and positive outlook on life.

With play as one of the key social situations for children, physical activity is also essential for their social development, learning to compete, cooperate and make friends.

How Schools prevent a Lack of Physical Activity

Schools play an essential role in creating healthy habits for children. At Playcubed, we provide tailored active play areas and sports surfaces for schools across London and the South East. From surveys and planning to installation and aftercare, our comprehensive service makes it easy for your school to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Get in touch today to discuss your project with one of our team.

Create an Active Play Area