Coronavirus challenges highlight importance of physical activity and sport for children
Our latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey report evidences the benefits on mental health and loneliness. Existing inequalities have widened, and new issues have arisen with boys losing active habits.
Children and young people’s activity levels continue to be negatively impacted by the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at a time when getting active is more important than ever for their mental and physical wellbeing.
Today’s publication of our Active Lives Children and Young People Survey report, which covers the 2020-21 academic year, shows that while there's been no overall decrease in activity levels compared to the previous academic year, existing inequalities have widened while enjoyment and confidence in taking part are down, and there are new short-term issues that need to be considered so they don't become long-term trends.
Positively, the results provide further evidence that active children have higher levels of mental wellbeing and illustrate the role sport and physical activity can play in supporting them amid rising levels of loneliness and declining mental health during the pandemic.
We also know that active children do better at school in attainment and achievement – so there's a dual benefit to taking part amid ongoing uncertainty.
In general, there were lower activity levels when there were more coronavirus restrictions in place – which illustrates the importance of protecting and supporting sport and physical activity opportunities in schools, the active commute to school and the other organised sport in children and young people's lives.
Worryingly, the new findings reveal that existing inequalities have been exacerbated and there’s also been a drop in activity levels for boys that brings them in-line with girls’ activity levels, with girls having traditionally been less likely to take part.
It’s a new problem that’s arisen since coronavirus emerged and there's a risk of it becoming a longer-term trend if it's not addressed.
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