• Thursday, December 08, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Wales’ youngsters among the least fit in the world, get F in fitness – Study

Similar studies are done in 60 countries so physical activity can be compared around the world.

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By: Kimberly Rodrigues

According to new research, children in Wales are among the least fit, compared with children around the world. With colleagues from 60 countries, Wales’ youngsters were given an F by researchers, for fitness, the BBC reports.

This is the fourth Active Healthy Kids Wales report card and the conclusions were based on work done prior to the Covid pandemic, the BBC said. In the previous report (2018) only nine countries reportedly scored lower than Wales.

Evidence for the present report was gathered through surveys and organisations including Play Wales, Sport Wales, and the National Dance Company of Wales.

Swansea University discovered that while half of the three to 17-year-olds exercised the recommended (60 minutes a day), this number dropped to a fifth for the 11 to 16-year-old children.

The report’s authors reportedly said that evidence suggested things have got worse, with children exercising even less since the lockdown due to the pandemic.

The report’s chief author, Swansea University’s Amie Richards, is reported to have said, “Wales has some of the poorest levels globally of physical activity and time spent in inactivity.

“We are still working on comparing the most recent information from around the world.

“But there is strong emerging evidence worldwide that, unfortunately, children’s physical activity levels have continued to decline during the pandemic.”

“We hope that the results from this report card will be used to inform the decision-making of policy makers, practitioners and educators to improve children and young people’s physical activity levels and opportunities and decrease physical activity inequalities.”

Similar studies were supposedly carried out in 60 countries with the objective of comparing physical activity around the world.

Though Wales received B+ (a better grade for PE and sport in schools) the F was given for the amount of time children spent sitting down to watch TV, play computer games or stare at phones and tablets.

The Welsh government is reported to have said it would spend £24m developing community sports facilities over the next three years, the BBC informs.

According to the NHS, children and young people need to engage in two types of physical activity each week – aerobic exercise and exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones.

Additionally, children and youngsters aged 5 to 18 should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of (moderate or vigorous intensity) physical activity daily across the week.

The physical activity during the week should aim to develop movement skills, muscles and bones.

Moreover, the youngsters should reduce the time spent in inactivity (sitting or lying down) and break up these periods of not moving by engaging in some activity. The objective should be to spread out the activity throughout the day.

With the aim of encouraging children to play outdoors more, Conwy council has been running a programme – more than 50 sessions across 30 locations have reportedly taken place (every week) during the summer holidays.

“If we want children to be active and to play outside, it’s about the opportunities that they are given.

“When we talk to children, they say they enjoy playing video games, but if there’s an opportunity to get outside and do something, then they’ll take it,” said the organiser Nat Minard.

Elsie, from Rhos On Sea, and her friend Olivia, from Conwy, reportedly spent the day at an event in Colwyn Bay making a den. Eight-year-old, Elsie is reported to have said, “It involves a lot of work and teamwork and not just doing it yourself. You need to talk to the other person.”

She also supposedly admitted that she would not be so energetic if she was not playing outside and would “probably be on my tablet playing Minecraft.” Her nine-year-old friend, Olivia reportedly said she would be doing “probably the same.”

The BBC informs that the Welsh government funded a range of sport and leisure activities for children through Sport Wales and delivered by councils, sports clubs and partners including youth organisations.

“Health and well-being is a mandatory part of the new curriculum for Wales, which will start to be introduced this September,” a spokesperson said.

“Our Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales strategy is also currently developing a daily active programme to incorporate more physical activity within the school day,” the spokesperson added.

 

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