The pandemic has taken a toll on lifestyle making it more sedentary with government-induced restrictions on movements in public places but how much has it bounced back as life gets back to normalcy? A new British study has found that the physical activity among children, all subjects from Britain was significantly lower by the time the restrictions were lifted.
By the end of 2021, only 36 percent of the children in Britain were being engaged in physical activity according to national recommendations. The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) recommend all children and young people should take part in an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day. This is an activity that gets children slightly “hot, slightly sweaty, and out of breath.” The recommendations further elaborate
The findings of the research were published in the ‘International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The study was conducted on 393 children and their parents, from 23 schools in the Bristol area. The National Institute of Health Research-funded study made the subjects wear an accelerometer to measure the intensity of physical activity and answer a questionnaire. This information was compared with data from 1,296 children and their parents who were studied in the same area before the pandemic.
The study further noted that 10 to 11 years old took part in on average just 56 minutes i.e. less than recommended one hour of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity during weekdays from Last year April to December. The physical activity levels among the parents, however, are left unchanged, the National Institute for Health and Care research.
Senior author Russ Jago, Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health said that changes in physical activity levels did not bounce to pre-pandemic levels with restrictions being lifted.
These findings thus highlight a “greater need to work with children, families, schools, and communities to maximize the opportunities for children to be physically active, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.” she said.
According to the study’s first author Dr. Ruth Salway, the study emphasises the importance of understanding how such habits change over time. She suggested appropriate support and interventions be introduced for children as normality resumes.
The drop is around 13 percent (eight minutes) from what the children of the 10 to 11 years age group were doing post-pandemic. The children took part in an average of 46 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity which is around 8 minutes slower than the activity of children who were measured using the same methods pre-pandemic. They were less active on weekends than the rest of the week.
The lack of physical activity was accompanied by an increase in a sedentary life with children spending 25 minutes longer in activities that have no physical burnout, than previously during the week.