British children desperate to be more active


A new survey from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) reveals children and teenagers are desperate to be more active.

The report has revealed that over a third (38%) of children surveyed aged 8-16 years old would like to take part in more physical education lessons at school.

34% of those surveyed said that they would like to do more physical activity but not the same sports currently on offer in PE lessons at their school.

The survey of 767 children and teenagers was commissioned by the BHF’s Schools Projects team to mark the re-launch of its Jump Rope For Heart and Ultimate Dodgeball initiatives within schools and youth clubs. With continued concerns about the amount of exercise children are getting as new technologies cut into children’s school and leisure time, the survey looked at young peoples’ attitudes towards physical activity at home and school.

When asked what they thought of their PE lessons at school, over half (58%) of respondents described the content of lessons as being “fun” and over a quarter (28%) said that they found them “interesting”. However, worryingly, just over a fifth (21%) of those polled said that they found their PE lessons “boring” and over one in ten (11%) went as far as to say that they felt that it was the “most pointless lesson” they did at school.

Resources were seen to be an issue, with close to one in ten (8%) of those polled saying that they felt their school didn’t have much sports equipment or facilities.

When asked about what sports they currently play at school, the top five activities emerged as football (53%), dodgeball (34%), the traditional playground game of ‘It’ or ‘stuck in the mud’ (32%), netball (25%) and rugby (25%). When asked which physical activities they would like to take part in at school, which aren’t currently on offer, those surveyed expressed an interest in playing American-style sports, with respondents saying they would like to see dodgeball (15%), American football (12%), baseball (15%) and volleyball (17%) and on offer at their school.

Perhaps, in part attributable to Andy Murray’s success at the Olympics and Wimbledon, tennis was ranked highly as a desirable addition, with close to a quarter (24%) of young people saying they would like to take part in this sport. 38% of the children surveyed also said they wanted to participate in swimming at school.

Looking at their time after they leave school, 45% of respondents indicated that they would try to continue to take part in physical activity in their spare time. One in ten (10%) said that they wanted to be a professional sportsman or woman.

When quizzed on how they would ideally choose to spend their spare time outside of school, playing computer games or playing on a tablet or console topped the list of leisure activities, with 71% of respondents online opting for digital downtime. 63% of children surveyed said they preferred to watch TV in their spare time.

Parents were seen to be a positive influence on children’s engagement with physical activity, with 60% saying their parents encouraged them to get involved in sports, join teams and clubs and 38% encouraged their children to play sport with them.

Beck Bayram, Schools Projects Manager at the BHF, said: “It is heartening to see the huge appetite for more time spent exercising at school and more varied pursuits being added to the curriculum. But there’s still much more we need to do with young people to excite and engage them. Getting active is a crucial way of looking after your heart health so it’s vital we make it fun and enjoyable for children from an early age.”

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