Bristol (UK), May 17: The level of physical activity of children was significantly lower by the time Covid-19 induced restrictions were lifted, according to a new study led by the University of Bristol.
As per the findings of the research published in the 'International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,' by the end of 2021 little more than a third (36%) of children were meeting the national recommended physical activity guidelines.
While their parents' physical activity levels remained unchanged, the National Institute for Health and Care Research-funded study found that 10 to 11-year-olds engaged in only 56 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity on weekdays from April to December, less than the recommended hour.
That's an average of eight minutes less each day, or a 13% reduction, than children of similar age did before the pandemic.
"It was surprising the extent to which children's physical activity levels had fallen after the pandemic, indicating that changes in physical activity patterns did not revert to previous levels once freedoms had been restored," said Senior author Russ Jago, Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health.
"These findings highlight a greater need to work with children, families, schools, and communities to maximise the opportunities for children to be physically active, as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic," he added.
The findings also showed children were less active at the weekend than during the week and marked an increase in sedentary time, with children spending 25 minutes longer being sedentary per day, than previously during the week.
Physical activity is vital for the health and happiness of children. The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have recommended all children and young people take part in an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day.
This activity gets children slightly hot, slightly sweaty and out of breath. The Chief Medical Officers further advised children to limit the amount of time they spend being sedentary.
The study's first author Dr Ruth Salway, further said: "The key strength of this study was we used data collected before and after the pandemic, using the same methods and in the same schools."
"The data clearly demonstrates children's physical activity had deteriorated once the restrictions were lifted. This emphasises the importance of understanding how such habits change over time, so appropriate support and interventions can be introduced as normality resumes," he added.