The UK-wide Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for physical activity recommend that to receive the health benefits from physical activity:
Children under 5 years old (Early Years)
Children who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day. For children who cannot yet walk unaided, physical activity should be encouraged from birth, especially through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
Children and young people (5-18 years old)
All children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day. Participation in vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated at least three days a week; these include any activities that strengthen muscles and bones.
The benchmark used by the Research Work Group to allocate a grade to this indicator was: The percentage of children and young people who meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.
Two nationally representative data sources were used by the Research Work Group to assign an overall physical activity grade.
The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey (2013/14), on 9,055 Secondary School children and young people aged 11-16 year olds, provides data on percentage of children and young people taking part in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) every day of the week. The survey showed that only 15% of of children and young people met the recommendation of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) every day of the week. The survey found that boys were more active than girls across all age groups and socioeconomic status, with 20% of boys of boys and only 11% of girls meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. However, there was little difference in overall MVPA found across difference socioeconomic status, as well as, across different regions of Wales. In addition, there was a small downward trend in physical activity for boy and girls between 2006 and 2014, with physical activity levels going from 21% in 2006, to 19% in 2010 to 15% in 2014.
The Welsh Health Survey (2014) on children aged 4-15 years old, asked how much exercise the children had undertaken on each day in the last week. The children were asked to include exercise done at school as well as outside of school. The survey showed that 35% of children participated in MVPA for at least 1 hour every day. A gender difference was seen between boys and girls, with a higher proportion of boys (40%) participating each day compared to girls (29%). In this survey there has been no significant change in the levels of physical activity since 2007. The concerning results from this survey are that 12% of boys and 15% of girls did not take part in any physical activity in the last week.
The Research Working Group assigned a D- to this category as when taking both surveys into account, the proportion of active children was only between 20 and 39%. The minus score was given as there were inequalities between boys and girls, as well as a downward trend seen in the levels of physical activity in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey. This grade has not changed from the last AHK-Wales report card completed in 2014.