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79% of UK children failing to meet recommended fitness levels

79% of UK children failing to meet recommended fitness levels

Fit For Sport, the UK’s leaders in engaging and educating children and young people through physical activity, have revealed that a shocking 79% of pupils measured through their Healthy Active Schools System (HASS) are failing to meet the recommended fitness levels for their age.

Dean Horridge, CEO and Founder of Fit For Sport, unveiled the findings of the research at Elevate 2018, the UK’s largest physical activity trade show, where he chaired a seminar on ‘Getting kids active at school’ on Wednesday 9 May 2018.

Fit For Sport, the leading children’s activity providers, launched HASS back in January 2017 in a bid to tackle inactivity amongst primary school pupils. With an estimated 1.6 million children in the UK beginning secondary school as obese, calls to curb unhealthy eating and inactivity have never been so prevalent.

The recent Sugar Tax levy is expected to raise £240 million each year which will go towards doubling the Primary Sports Premium. The extra funding will undoubtedly provide much needed support to schools to help improve pupils’ levels of fitness, however, Dean Horridge, CEO and Founder of Fit For Sport, insists that it’s not just investment that needs to change:

“The fact that only 21% of children are meeting recommended fitness levels comes as no surprise to us given the current inactivity crisis that we find ourselves in. We must change the way in which we are educating children through physical activity or else we’ll continue to fight a losing battle. There’s too much focus on diet and too little on regular exercise.”

“A couple of hours of outdated PE lessons a week are not enough to get children engaged. The key is, and always will be, daily engagement in fun and varied physical activity. After all, government guidelines state that 30 minutes of daily physical activity must be carried out during school.”

“Furthermore, without measurement how will we ever know if this new investment is working? Physical activity at school must be taken as seriously as Maths and English otherwise obesity rates will continue to soar.”

HASS is a free platform that allows schools to record, monitor and evaluate their pupils’ physical activity levels. The online portal also ensures that schools can easily track their PE and Sport Premium spend, level 1 and 2 competition and individual pupils’ swimming milestones.

To measure the fitness levels of the 40,000 children registered on the HASS, Fit For Sport conduct a simple physical activity test, otherwise known as the Activity Challenge, which requires a combination of skill and physical fitness, including stamina, agility and coordination.

Between 2014 and 2017, Fit For Sport worked with over 10,000 children through the Sport England-funded ‘Engage to Compete’ programme. The data collected was sampled and analysed across three different age groups: 5-7, 8-9, and 10-11-year olds. From this, they were able to set ranges as a benchmark of recommended fitness and activity levels. The benchmark was established by working with teachers, children’s activity professionals and experts to calculate the recommended fitness levels for their age range.

Fit For Sport found that when children were engaged in the recommended 60 minutes of daily break-time and lunch time physical activities, their health-related fitness levels improved by up to 15% over the academic year.

Fit For Sport have been educating and engaging children through physical activity for more than 27 years. The Healthy Active Schools System is free to all Primary Schools throughout the UK.  For more information visit www.healthyactiveschools.co.uk.

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