New statistics released by Sustrans today reveal the magnitude of the inactivity epidemic, with nearly half (47 per cent) of parents in the North West saying that their child does as little as 40 minutes or less exercise in a typical weekday.
The government recommends that children and teenagers undertake a minimum of an hour of exercise a day.
The survey, carried out by YouGov, asked parents of 5 – 16 year olds about the amount of exercise their child gets during the school week and what their main concerns would be if their child was not getting enough exercise.
Of the parents surveyed, 37 per cent said that they were chiefly concerned about their child putting on excess weight, as a result of being physically inactive.
A further 29 per cent said their main concern would be their child developing health problems such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Of this, 12 per cent of parents were most concerned about childhood health problems, while 17 per cent were most concerned about health problems in later life.
When asked how they could increase the amount of exercise that their child took, 46 per cent thought that walking, cycling, scooting and skating could be incorporated into their routines as part of the journey to school.
The survey comes at the start of The Big Pedal, a competition for primary and secondary schools run by Sustrans, which encourages families to cycle and scoot to school over 10 days.
One of the schools taking part in the Big Pedal is Childwall CE. Local Councillor Jeremy Wolfson said: “The survey results show just how important it is that pupils engage in physical activities and the Big Pedal will encourage more exercise. The pupils from Childwall CE have taken part in the Big Street Survey which looked at the roads around their school to see how they can be improved for cycling and walking – now they are taking that a step forward by joining in the Big Pedal and they should be congratulated for their efforts which will help them stay fit and healthy.”
Sustrans Regional Director for the North West, Rosslyn Colderley said: “Today’s children are the least physically active in history, and set to have shorter life expectancies than their parents because of this.
“Physical activity is essential for healthy growth and development; it has been shown to improve concentration and attainment at school as well as encouraging social interaction and confidence in children.
“The most effective way to tackle the physical inactivity crisis among young people is to incorporate exercise into their daily routines by cycling and scooting to school.”
Currently there are 103 primary and secondary schools in the North West who have signed up to take part in The Big Pedal.
Run by charity Sustrans and funded by the Bicycle Association on behalf of the cycle industry through its Bike Hub scheme, The Big Pedal has become the UK’s largest cycling and scooting competition. To find out more about The Big Pedal 2015 go to: www.bigpedal.org.uk
Pictured : Councillor Jeremy Wolfson and Alice Swift from Sustrans with Childwall CE.Primary School pupils who are taking part in The Big Pedal.