You can’t imagine the headline a few decades ago when kids were allowed to play outside for most of the summer holidays, but a recent study has come to the conclusion that summer holidays can lead to a LOSS of fitness and activity in children all over the UK, with the poorest somehow being the worst affected.
A study which was carried out by scientists from the UK Active health charity and the University of Essex revealed that many children were returning to school in September having gained weight and lost cardiorespiratory fitness.
The study involved 400 children. Researchers looked at their fitness levels before and after the six-week school summer holiday and found that in term time, the children could complete an average of 740m of a shuttle run test before they had to stop because they were too tired. By September, this had dropped to just 605m.
The children’s average BMI also increased during the summer holiday from an average of 17.64 in the spring to 18.26 in September.
If kids are no longer playing outside as perhaps their parents would have done, it’s not surprising. And Learn Play Grow’s founder Nino Severino has strong views on the use of ‘electronic babysitters’ like gadgets, screens and iPads.
Although some less financially well-off parents might feel that expensive summer camps and sports clubs are financially off-limits, Learn Play Grow Classes are springing up all over the UK, so why not see if there’s something in your area this summer? We’ll also be coming up with lots of fun ideas for you and your kids to try outside to stay active, the type of thing that doesn’t NEED subscriptions and lots of money, just a bit of time and some open space.
It’s really very sad – the study showed strongly that it was the children of less well-off parents who suffered most from the summer holiday slump. The poorest 25 per cent of primary school children saw their fitness levels drop 18 times more than the richest 25 per cent.
Dr Steven Mann, ukactive research director, said:
“Our findings suggest that children are being plonked in front of screens for hours on end, while their more affluent peers are able to maintain their fitness levels through summer camps and other activities.”
Being inactive as a child is linked to problems in later life too; reduced physical development, a shorter attention span and even lower grades at school. An inactive childhood can also put people at more risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes when they are older.
Ukactive is on a mission to encourage more activity for kids during their school days and beyond, to help them reap some of the rewards and benefits that being active brings – physical, mental and social. Look out for more information in the next few weeks about the nationwide mass workout that’s planned as part of National Fitness Day on 27th September.
Keep reading the blog too for more updates and fun ideas to keep your kids active this summer that won’t have to cost money.