Staying active: The surprising effects of lockdown on young people’s activity levels

Sport England has released a new report exploring the picture of physical activity behaviours and attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic in children and young people aged 7-16. Here at Hopscotch we have been working with Sport England to create Studio You, a new online video platform that aims to reconnect teenage girls with sport, so we found the report’s insights into differing activity levels amongst young people particularly interesting.

Relieving as it may feel as we start to ease out of a lockdown, it’s hard to forget the impact Covid-19 has had on the nation’s young people. School closures, social distancing measures and cancellations of group activities have led to them losing out on the weekly activities that helped them achieve their recommended activity amount. New research from Sport England has shed light on the impact lockdown has had on young people and exercise, especially amongst teenage girls.

According to the Children’s experience of physical activity in lockdown report, only 19% of children under 16 have managed to stick to the government’s recommended 60 minutes of activity a day over the last few months. As a result, it’s predicted that children will be suffering from low levels of fitness when they return to school in September, which is no doubt going to prove a challenge for PE teachers. However, a strong 43% of young people say they are active because they enjoy exercise. With this in mind, the report urges activity providers to focus on enjoyment, as opposed to technique and stamina, when children return to ensure participation.

The report also found that teenage girls are less likely to have become less active as a result of the lockdown (26% of girls compared to 37% of boys). Whilst only a small proportion of girls have lost out on their regular physical activity, it should be highlighted that this could be a result of fewer participating in the first place. However, it’s encouraging nonetheless that the decrease is relatively small for teenage girls, especially since Sport England found earlier in the lockdown that women’s activity levels were disproportionately affected by the pandemic with 42% of women compared to 35% of men reporting a drop in activity levels.

With young people’s wellbeing a huge priority now and come September, these findings suggest that an emphasis on enjoyment and a shift from traditional, competitive sports will be integral to helping young people get their fitness back. It will also be even more of a plus if it can aid in stopping teenage girls’ activity levels from dropping off even further. Click here to read the full report from Sport England.

About the author

Eloise Turner

Eloise has gained lots of marketing and comms knowledge having worked with a range of organisations in the education, women’s health and global logistics industry. With experience in content creation, copywriting and social media she brings her passion for reaching the younger audience when working on projects for Sport England, LifeSkills created with Barclays and RSPCA.

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