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Less than half of young Londoners are meeting recommended levels of physical activity

Less than half of young Londoners are meeting recommended levels of physical activity

  • A new report from London Sport highlights the capital’s child inactivity crisis and the vast inequalities within it.
  • Over 620,000 young Londoners are not doing enough physical activity for their health and wellbeing.  
  • Activity for young Londoners still below pre-pandemic levels, with cost of living crisis exacerbating the challenges faced by millions.

Activity levels for children and young people in London remain below pre-pandemic levels, with only 45.3% of young Londoners meeting the recommended levels of sport and physical activity.  

A new report published by charity London Sport – using Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey – demonstrated positive signs across the nation but showed that London was still lagging behind the rest of the nation for 5–16-year-olds’ activity levels. Over 600,000 children in this age range not doing enough physical activity for their health and wellbeing.  

Activity levels are assessed based on children and young people meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in an average of 60 minutes or more of sport and physical activity a day.  

 London Sport’s report also accentuates the link between inactivity and inequality, with the London data revealing that children from the least affluent families are 14 per cent less likely to be physically active compared to those from the most affluent families. 

Mirroring the national trend, children from Black, Asian, and Other ethnicities are still the least likely to be active, with only 39 per cent of Black children and 40 per cent Asian children and young people in the capital considered active. The gap between the most active and least active ethnicity groups has persistently been over 10 per cent over the last five years, suggesting that not enough has been done to tackle the barriers to activity for non-White children and young people.  

There remain stark inequalities within gender across London too, with boys being 7.5 per cent more likely to be active than girls (49 per cent compared with 41 per cent) with the gap in London wider than the national figures (5 per cent gender gap for England). These figures suggest that there are approximately 40,000 more active boys than girls in the capital.  

It is still unclear what the full impact of the cost of living crisis will have on activity levels, but it is likely to have increased the barriers to activity for both children and adults, particular in the most deprived areas of the city. A recent Savanta poll showed that nearly half of Londoners spent less on children’s activities or after school clubs in the last six months, suggesting that it is already becoming more difficult for children to access physical activity.  

Emily Robinson, Chief Executive Officer at London Sport said:

While there was a slight uplift in activity across England, we are still far behind where we want to be in London. The fact remains that less than half of young Londoners are doing the recommended levels of activity each week, which will in turn have a direct impact on their health and wellbeing.”  

“We know the transformational power sport and physical activity can have for children and young people. As well as improving physical health, an active lifestyle can improve mental health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of long-term health conditions and obesity, and even help children perform better at school.”

Our current work distributing £500k of Sport England’s Together Fund will play a part in tackling the child inactivity crisis, but there is far more to do to support the next generation and ensure that every young Londoners has access to sport and physical activity.” 

The full report from London Sport is available to view here.

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