Small minority of children getting recommended amount of exercise, study finds
The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity study involved around 6,600 students from 115 schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
A small minority of children in Northern Ireland and the Republic are getting the recommended amount of exercise every day, a study has found.
Researchers say that levels of participation in sport, in the school and in the community, are high among children – but found that there are notable differences for particular groups based on age, gender, disability, and social class.
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 Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA) study involved around 6,600 students from 115 schools across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The report contains a mixture of positive findings as well as highlighting some significant challenges in the areas of physical activity, sport and physical education.
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.
The numbers meeting the guidelines decline as children get older.
It also found that children who play sport regularly are significantly more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines.
In the Republic of Ireland, notable improvements were seen in active commuting – walking or cycling – to school since the previous study in 2010, although it found that there are barriers around the distance to travel to schools and safety.
Compared to 2010, there were some improvements in physical education, however the report identified that more needs to be done.
In Northern Ireland, 13% of children met the physical activity guidelines, with girls less likely to meet the targets when compared to boys.
About one in five primary pupils reported receiving 30 minutes or less physical education per week while in post primary, 40% of pupils reported meeting the physical education guidelines of 120 minutes.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, said that the study shows the majority of children are participating in organised sport, at either community or school level.
He added: “While that is good news, we need to build on this achievement by providing more support to parents, clubs and communities with the resources they need to ensure children have a broad range of opportunities to participate.”
Kieran Mulvey, chairperson of Sport Ireland’s Board, said: “CSPPA 2018 highlights the significant levels of sports participation among children and young people on the island and the contribution that such participation makes to their health, well-being and development.
“Sport Ireland is committed to working in partnership with key stakeholders under the National Sports Policy to ensure that the benefits from being active are available to all our children and young people.”
Antoinette McKeown, chief executive for Sport Northern Ireland, said: “I would like to express my thanks to the researchers involved on both sides of the border who have produced an invaluable look into children’s activity levels on the island of Ireland.
“Notably, this is the first time that Northern Irish statistics have been included in the collection of data in the CSPPA reports- this provides an excellent base for future policy development and delivery.”