Let’s get our children stronger and fitter

01 October 2018


A recent study from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, reported by the BBC, set out damning evidence that our children are weaker and less fit than they were 16 years ago. 

Here at Playforce we’ve been shouting about the need to get more children active for the last 20 years… and we’ve been working with Primary Schools and Early Years settings to help them understand and measure the impact of physical activity and outdoor learning. Yet reports, such as this, continue to demonstrate a worrying decline in our children’s fitness and physical well-being. 

In this latest study, researchers compared the strength and fitness of 1,200 10-year-olds from Chelmsford, Essex in 1998, 2008 and 2014. 

Overall, these children had become heavier and taller (maintaining the same BMI) over the time period but this had been coupled with a decline in performance in tests such as sit-ups, hand-grip strength, standing long-jumps, and bent-arm hanging.

Dr Gavin Sandercock, who led the study, noted that there had been a 30% decrease in muscle endurance and a 20% decrease in muscle strength, over the course of this study. This suggested that the children were doing a decreasing amount of exercise. 

What was most concerning, however, was that the study showed an apparent acceleration of this problem. Between 1998 and 2008 strength fell by 0.6% each year, but this more than doubled to 1.6% per year between 2008 and 2014. Falls in muscular endurance were larger at 2.5% per year in the period from 1998 to 2008, rising to a 4% decline each year after 2008.

Although levels of obesity among the children in Chelmsford stayed constant, at 6%, with 80% having a normal BMI, one in three of them was found to be unfit. 70% of those who were classified as obese, because of their BMI, were found to be physically fit.

Dr Sandercock said the term "healthy weight" was misleading and said that using BMI in isolation was not an effective way to monitor health. He said: "Inactive lifestyles are a health risk but physical fitness is the single best measure of health in childhood, adolescence and on into adulthood. Poor fitness and inactivity lead to multiple health problems in their adult life."

Want some inspiration to get your children active?

At Playforce, we’re passionate about ensuring all children have the best opportunities to live healthy, active lives. Over the last 20 years we’ve created a wide portfolio of options for sports facilities designed for all ages and abilities, and the expertise to deliver these with high standards of customer service. 

We've pooled our experience and expertise to come up with some handy advice guides about the PE and Sports Premium, how to maximise its impact and some tips on how to use your outdoor space to encourage pupils to be more physically active and improve physical literacy skills. 

Download our free sports guides today! 

Want to find out more about our sports products and multi-use games areas? Click here to see our range of MUGAs. 

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