Boys spend 15 minutes a day more than girls on sports activities – official figures show
ONS figures show children spend around 68 minutes of their free time a day taking part in physical activities.
Boys spend more time than girls on sporting activities – according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics said young people aged between eight to 15 spend 68 minutes of their free time a day taking part in an outdoor activity, sports-related activity or actively travelling on foot or by bicycle.
It is the first time the ONS has analysed how children spend their free time on activities that promote physical health, mental health and individual development.
According to the report from 2014 to 2015, boys spent an average of 40 minutes per day on sports activities, compared with 25 minutes a day for girls.
Boys were also found to be more likely to participate in sports activities than girls, with an average of 39% of boys reporting taking part in sports activities on any given day compared with 26% for girls.
The finding is consistent with a range of other studies showing a gender imbalance in participation in sports and physical activity between boys and girls, which continues throughout childhood and adolescence, becoming greater over time, the report said.
Dawn Snape, assistant director of the well-being, inequalities, sustainability and environment (WISE) division at the ONS, said: “This is the first time we have looked at how children are spending their leisure time on sports and outdoor activities.
“Of their outdoor leisure activities, taking part in sport is by far the most popular among eight to 15 year olds.
“Boys spend significantly longer than girls on sport but interestingly, boys and girls who do participate in sport, enjoy it equally.”
The figures also showed children spent three times longer on sports and exercise activities (33 minutes) – such as walking, biking, swimming, water sports, hunting, fishing, picking berries or gymnastics – than entertainment and culture activities (11 minutes) – which include visiting historical, wildlife and botanical sites, leisure parks, urban park playgrounds or designated play areas.
When asked to rate their enjoyment out of seven, the children reported entertainment and culture-related activities (6.4) and sports and exercise activities (6.3) as more enjoyable compared to other outdoor activities such as pet care and gardening (5.8) or active travel (5.2).
The figures also showed children spent around 16 minutes of their leisure time a day in outdoor areas such as parks, countryside, seaside, beach or coastal locations, with those aged 14 to 15 (8%) less likely to visit these locations than children aged eight to 10 (15%).
The data was collected from 1,819 children who took part in during April 2014 to December 2015.
Children between the ages of eight and 15 were asked to complete time diaries on two days – one weekday and one weekend day – which was used for the analysis.