Just nine per cent of pre-school kids get enough exercise

The Mirror is reporting warnings that nine out of 10 pre-school children are not getting enough exercise.

Only 9% of two to four-year-olds meet official guidelines of having at least three hours of physical activity a day, according to a report out today.

Worried experts at the British Heart Foundation are now calling on the Government to come up with policies which make ­exercise for under-fives part of everyday life at home, in nurseries and in the community.

They also want health workers to track youngsters’ physical activity levels during early years. Recommended activities include walking, running, climbing, riding a bike, skipping or playing.

Elaine McNish, director of the charity’s National Centre for Physical Activity and Health, said: “This manifesto outlines how we can create an environment for children that encourages them and stimulates them to be active.

“This manifesto is a call to policy makers to ensure that early years settings are supported to create active environments. We know active children are more likely to become active adults so it’s vitally ­important to get it right at the beginning to give children opportunities to play from a young age and develop a lifelong love of being active.”

Statistics show one in 10 children was obese when starting primary school in England in 2014-15…

Lisa Young, behaviour change project manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “As a nation we need help to ­recognise the importance of ­physical activity for early years and the contribution this makes to general health and heart health.”

More at Just nine per cent of pre-school kids are getting enough exercise says shock report


I can’t find this research on the BHF website, but taking their message as given, what in practice can be done to get pre-school children more active?

Until someone invests a device that only unlocks screen time on their favourite devices in direct proportion to the amount of physical activity they do, is there any hope of changing things?

Please share your best ideas in the comments or via Twitter…

Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or  just someone who cares about education and has something to get off  your chest in a Schools Improvement Guest Post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link.

We now have a Facebook page - please click to like!



Guest post: Grants for schools - 4 things you should NOT do when trying to secure a grant!
BBC Micro Bit mini-computer faces further delay
Categories: Health, Parenting and Pre-school.


  1. bjsutty

    SchoolsImprove maybe lowering the costs of activities £25 a swimming lesson, £18 for trampoline, £19 for gymnastics

  2. I’m an early years professional and forest school leader. Our kindergarten sessions are 4 hours outdoors whatever the weather and the children are active all that time (except for lunch round the campfire). I paid for my own training and set up, because I believe it isso important to offer this to children, but only this week a county advisor commented “all this outdoor stuff, it’s a bit niche isn’t it”. There is a huge cultural shift needed and it’s a sysiphean task.

  3. Catherine is right. 
    Getting children outside and active, whether in the countryside or at the nursery, is achievable with the proper staff training and some good environment design (it is definitely not about expensive fixed play equipment!) but there’s a bigger shift in adult attitudes behind today’s ‘obesity’ issues, and it is ignorance and small-mindedness at all levels of authority which are responsible.
    The government doesn’t understand what is required to make the change, and neither do most people at the local level. This includes many of today’s young parents, who have grown up in this ‘abnormal’ culture and therefore know nothing of what is required to promote healthy activity in children. They’ve simply never experienced a good play environment and couldn’t tell it from a hole in the ground (a muddy hole is actually a good play opportunity).
    I’m currently working with the senior decision-makers at a major UK city council and I’m therefore fully aware of just how serious the situation is. I know of four-year-old children who have hardly been outside at all since birth! 
    It isn’t about screens. Its not even about massive amounts of money. It’s about policy, about design, about training/education and ultimately about our selfish and small-minded attitudes towards children.

  4. So true. We are now a generation away from people who have had what I would call “normal” active outdoor childhoods. The parents who bring children to forest school sadly often see this as their one “dirty” experience of the week, and take them home to have baths to wash off all that evidence of outdoor activity. We hear them saying this (as they chide the children for making the car dirty!). More and more of our children are unwilling to even place the palms of their hands on trees, grass or earth when they start, either because they have been told so often that it is “dirty” or the sensations are so unusual that they are frightening. And these are children of parents aware enough of what is needed at least to choose forest school. The tip of the iceberg. After a while the forest school children blossom, unsurprisingly, into the active, robust, sane people, it is the culture we have created around them that stops this happening more.

  5. nrcantor

    SchoolsImprove “90% don’t get enough exercise” & “we should start tracking how much exercise they get” cannot both be true.

Let us know what you think...