Neil shares this latest news from Sustrans. Ed
The Big Pedal 2017, the UK’s biggest challenge to get more young people cycling and scooting to school, launches today. Walking and cycling charity Sustrans is using the launch to call on schools to use additional funding from a levy on soft drinks to increase levels of walking and cycling on the school journey.
Less than one in 10 (9%) of the UK’s parents say their children and young people get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, new figures show [Monday 20 March 2017].
Lack of exercise in children
A YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Sustrans, surveyed 1,370 parents of 5 to 16-year-olds about their children’s daily levels of physical activity.
About one in five (19%) of those surveyed said their child took part in 60 minutes of physical activity a day two days a week, while 13% said their children did so one day a week or less.
According to government guidelines, children and young people aged five to 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day “to maintain a basic level of health”.
The survey also found:
- 13% of the respondents were concerned their child was overweight, with nine percent saying in the past two years they had either been, or had thought about going, to see a healthcare practitioner about their child being overweight.
- The number of children cycling the whole way to and from school is low at three percent.
- More than one in three (35%) of parents say their children now travel to school by car, while 12% of the parents surveyed said they had travelled to school by car as a child.
Walking, scooting or cycling to school would help children get their recommended hour of physical activity a day and maintain a healthy weight.
Parents, however, have cited the need for improved infrastructure, such as wider pavements and better crossings, and enhanced road safety among their top priorities before allowing their child to walk, scoot or cycle to school.
Sustrans is calling on schools and local authorities in England to use the money from a levy on soft drinks to help more children walk, scoot and cycle the school journey.
The charity would like to see governments elsewhere in the UK commit additional funding from the soft drinks levy to support active travel.
Boost levels of active school travel
Xavier Brice, Sustrans’ CEO, said:
“The average primary school journey is 1.6 miles – a distance that can be walked, scooted or cycled as an easy way of building more physical activity into our busy lives.
“We’re calling on schools in England to use some of the funding from the doubled School Sport Premium and the Healthy Pupils’ Capital Programme derived from the sugar tax to boost levels of active travel on the school journey.
“Local authorities need to play their part too and invest in safer and better infrastructure, if we want to reduce the high levels of inactivity of our children.”
Need to build awareness
Ashley Cooper, Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health at the University of Bristol, said:
“Sadly, it isn’t a surprise to see low numbers of children in the UK meeting the physical activity guidelines. These findings point out however that some parents are recognising the impact of sedentary lifestyle on their children and we need to build on this awareness.
“There is now a wealth of research evidence that tells us that walking or cycling to school are important for young people’s physical activity and health. Walking or cycling to and from school contributes up to a third of children’s moderate to vigorous physical activity, helping them to meet health guidelines, and children who cycle to school are fitter and healthier than those who don’t.”
The Big Pedal 2017
The survey has been released to launch The Big Pedal 2017, the UK’s biggest challenge to get more young people cycling and scooting to school.
The Big Pedal 2017, which runs from Monday 20 to Friday 31 March, will see almost 150 schools in the South West of England and more than 1,560 across the UK leave their cars at home and get on their bikes and scooters for their journeys to and from school.
Double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand, who is supporting The Big Pedal for the second year running, said:
“Now more than ever we need to see more children walking, scooting or cycling to school.
“Not only is cycling great for young people’s health, it also builds confidence and independence, and I’ve got lots of happy memories of cycling to school when I was a kid.
“The safer and more comfortable children feel on their bikes, the more they will enjoy it and the more likely they are to continue to cycle throughout their lives.”
Image: © Livia Lazar for Sustrans