Two-thirds of primary pupils lack basic fitness, report warns

Two-thirds of primary school children are not reaching basic levels of fitness for their age group, research has warned.

A study of 10,000 young people aged 5-11 found that 67 per cent were unable to reach targets in jumping, running and throwing – and 24 per cent fell “significantly” below recommended levels, indicating that fitness among children is a serious cause for concern.

The study comes a year after the chair of the Youth Sport Trust Baroness Sue Campbell raised concerns about a “crisis of inactivity” among young people.

Fit For Sport, which conducted the tests, said the results show that parents and schools must do more to increase children’s activity levels.

The young people were assessed through a series of tests of stamina, agility, coordination and cardiovascular endurance, to give a good indication of fitness and physical literacy.

Researchers found that just 36 per cent of five- to seven-year-olds were at an adequate level of fitness, falling to 32 per cent and 33 per cent for children aged 8-9 and 10-11 respectively.

Official guidelines from the chief medical officer recommend that children spend 60 minutes a day being physically active – yet only 21 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls achieve this.

The lowest results were recorded in running challenges that tested cardiovascular endurance, indicating that many children were failing to spend enough time on vigorous activity that left them out of breath and with an increased heart rate.

Fit For Sport founder Dean Horridge said: “Parents know how well their children perform academically, but they often have no idea how fit their kids are.

“Two-thirds of the 10,000 children we tested were unable to meet achievable levels of fitness, like completing 60 star jumps in one minute.

“This is a clear call to action: physical inactivity is a ticking time bomb for the UK’s health. Both parents and schools must make sure that children are spending enough time being active to improve their fitness and health levels now, and set them off on a journey to an active life.”

Related stories:

Schools are dropping the ball in PE provision, research finds – 14 January, 2015

Schools must use PE to tackle ‘crisis of inactivity’, says sports chief – 5 February, 2014

Girl power the answer to boosting take up of school sport – 28 June, 2014

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