Only 13% of NI children are getting enough exercise every day: report
Only a tiny minority of children in Northern Ireland are getting the recommended amount of exercise every day, according to new research.
The Children's Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA) study involved around 6,600 students from 115 schools across the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
Researchers say that levels of participation in sport, in the school and in the community, are high among children - but found notable differences for particular groups based on age, gender, disability and social class.
In Northern Ireland, just 13% of children - 20% of primary school pupils and 11% post-primary - met the physical activity guidelines, with girls less likely to meet the targets when compared to boys, the research report found.
The study also found that challenges in a new school, greater academic pressures and more homework may have a negative impact on sport participation in post-primary schools.
The report highlights some significant challenges in the areas of physical activity, sport and physical education, with the authors saying that the activity levels among schoolchildren in Northern Ireland were the lowest in the UK and Ireland - and getting worse.
"It is apparent that physical activity levels are inadequate, in decline, and should therefore be a cause for concern," they wrote.
The recent study found that only a small minority of children, north and south, are active enough to meet the physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity per day.
Key findings for Northern Ireland included:
• Higher levels of self-reported happiness were associated with days with at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
• 65% of primary and 58% of post-primary school pupils reported participating in school sport at least once a week.
• 65% of primary and 49% of post-primary school pupils reported participating in community sport at least once a week.
• 19% of primary pupils reported doing just 30 minutes or fewer of PE per week.
• 40% of post-primary school pupils reported meeting the Physical Education guidelines of at least two hours per week.
• The average weekly minutes of Physical Education were 122 at post-primary school level - the equivalent figure for the Republic of Ireland was just 89 minutes.
• 36% of primary and 18% of post-primary school pupils in NI reported actively commuting to school by cycling or walking.
• Insufficient safe places to cross the road (primary school) and distance (post-primary school) were the main reasons given for not actively commuting to school.
• On average, primary and post-primary school pupils spent 5.0 and 6.9 hours a day in sedentary leisure time respectively.
• 59% of primary and 40% of post-primary school pupils met the screen time guideline of no more than 120 minutes per day.