Gym Owner Monthly

Health: Wales’ children get F in fitness in global study

Out-of-shape children in Wales are among the world’s least fit, according to new research.

With colleagues from 60 countries, researchers gave Wales’ youngsters an F for fitness.

Swansea University found half of three to 17-year-olds exercised the recommended 60 minutes a day, dropping to a fifth for 11 to 16-year-olds.

The Welsh government said it would spend £24m developing community sports facilities over the next three years.

This is the fourth Active Healthy Kids Wales report card and conclusions were based on work done before the Covid pandemic.

In the last report, published in 2018, only nine countries scored lower than Wales.

But the report’s authors said evidence suggested things have got worse, with children working out even less since lockdown.

Similar studies are done in 60 countries so physical activity can be compared around the world.

Wales received a better grade for PE and sport in schools where it was given a B+ but the F was for the amount of time children spent sat down when they often watch TV, play computer games or stare at phones and tablets.

The report’s chief author, Swansea University’s Amie Richards, said: “Wales has some of the poorest levels globally of physical activity and time spent in inactivity.

“We are still working on comparing the most recent information from around the world.

“But there is strong emerging evidence worldwide that, unfortunately, children’s physical activity levels have continued to decline during the pandemic.”

“We hope that the results from this report card will be used to inform the decision making of policy makers, practitioners and educators to improve children and young people’s physical activity levels and opportunities and decrease physical activity inequalities.”

Evidence for the report was gathered through surveys and organisations including Play Wales, Sport Wales and the National Dance Company of Wales.

Conwy council has been running a programme to encourage children to play outside more.

More than 50 sessions across 30 locations have taken place every week during the summer holidays.

Organiser Nat Minard said: “If we want children to be active and to play outside, it’s about the opportunities that they are given.

“When we talk to children, they say they enjoy playing video games, but if there’s an opportunity to get outside and do something, then they’ll take it.”


Elsie, from Rhos On Sea, and friend Olivia, from Conwy, spent the day at an event in Colwyn Bay making a den.

Elsie said: “It involves a lot of work and teamwork and not just doing it yourself. You need to talk to the other person.”

The eight-year-old admitted she would not be so energetic if she was not out playing and would “probably be on my tablet playing Minecraft”.

Olivia, nine, said she would be doing “probably the same”.

The Welsh government said it funded a range of sport and leisure activities for children through Sport Wales and delivered by councils, sports clubs and partners including youth organisations.

A spokeswoman said: “Health and well-being is a mandatory part of the new curriculum for Wales, which will start to be introduced this September.

“Our Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales strategy is also currently developing a daily active programme to incorporate more physical activity within the school day.”