This topic area covers statistics and information relating to physical activity among children and young people in Hull including local strategic need and service provision. Further information relating to Physical Activity Among Adults is given under Lifestyle Factors within Adults. Physical activity information has been collected within Hull’s Health and Wellbeing Surveys and full reports are available under Surveys within Tools and Resources.
- Parents have a strong influence on young children’s physical activity levels, particularly mothers. Among older children, peers are much more important in determining physical activity levels.
- Whilst physical inactivity, together with poor diet, has an impact on obesity which is a risk factor for poor health, physical inactivity is also an independent risk factor for poor physical health, and physical activity can also improve mental health. It is estimated that physical inactivity is costing the UK around £7.4 billion a year including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.
- The levels of physical inactivity in Hull are high, and there is a strong association with deprivation. This impacts on levels of obesity in Hull which are high, as well as increasing the risk of poor physical and mental health.
- On the whole across England, physical activity levels decreased during the pandemic although increased slightly among girls. The largest decreases in physical activity levels occurred for children in the last two years of primary school, children living in more affluent families, and children who were Black and Black British.
The Population Affected – Why Is It Important?
Whatever a person’s age, there is good scientific evidence that being physically active can help them lead a healthier and happier life. The lack of physical activity and inactivity is a major risk factor in its own right increasing the risk of circulatory disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and some cancers. There is also strong evidence that physical activity promotes mental wellbeing, boosting self-esteem, mood, sleep quality, and energy, as well as easing stress and anxiety.
The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (formerly Public Health England) estimated that this lack of physical activity is costing the UK and estimated £7.4 billion a year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.
Parental influence is important in young children, and the influence of peers has greater influence among older children and young adults. Thus children growing up in families who are physical active are more likely to become physically active themselves, and older children who have friends who are physical active are more likely to be physically active themselves.
The Chief Medical Officer guidelines for physical activity sets out the amount and type of activities for health benefits for different age groups from babies to older adults, stating that some physical activity is good, but more is better. It is recommended that physical activity levels should be 150 minutes every week throughout pregnancy, three hours every day from birth to five years, at least an hour a day for five to 18 year olds, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity or 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity for adults aged 19-64 years, and 150 minutes of at least light intensity physical activity for adults aged 65+ years.
In general, the more time spent being physically active, the greater the health benefits. However, the gains are especially significant for those currently doing the lowest levels of activity (fewer than 30 minutes per week), as the improvements in health per additional minute of physical activity will be proportionately greater.
The Hull Picture
Levels of Physical Activity and Inactivity
In the local Young People Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016, 44% of male and 34% of female secondary school pupils in Hull engaged in sufficient physical activity to fulfil national guidelines (at least one hour daily), although there was a strong association with age among female pupils with levels of physical activity decreasing with increasing age.
The national Active Lives Surveys collect information at local authority level and information is available for Hull, although for 2019/20 and 2020/21 the number of children is too small to be presented for Hull (when data has been presented the number of children participating is small at round 500 or fewer). In the local Young People Health and Wellbeing Survey conducted in 2016, all secondary schools in Hull participated and (mixed ability / non-streamed) classes were randomly selected and all pupils completed the questionnaire. The numbers participating in the survey were also greater at over 4,000 pupils. The local survey only included secondary school pupils from Year 7 (aged 11-12 years) to Year 11 (aged 15-16 years) whereas Active Lives covers primary school too from Year 1 (aged 5-6 years) to Year 11 with parents completing an additional survey for the younger Year 1 and 2 children. So there were some differences in the survey methodology, size of the surveys, questions asked, age children, etc, and these differences may account for the difference in the percentage of children who are active (undertaking at least one hour of physical activity on average every day), fairly active (undertaking 30-59 minutes of physical activity on average each day) and less active (undertaking less than 30 minutes of physical activity on average every day).
The percentage of children who are physically active is substantially higher in the Active Lives survey but this might be accounted for by the differences in the age groups (older children are less likely to be active and the local survey just included secondary school pupils not both primary and secondary school pupils like Active Lives). The percentage increased dramatically in Hull from 2017/18 to 2018/19 from 49.6% to 60.2%. The reason is unknown. It could represent a true increase, for instance, more children undertaking the Daily Mile at school or it could be an artefact of the small number of children surveyed (see Small Numbers).
The percentage of children who are fairly active remained relatively unchanged in Hull between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
With the increase in the percentage of children who were active, there was a corresponding decrease in the percentage of children who were less active from Active Lives between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic
Information is available on the change in physical activity levels prior to the pandemic and during the pandemic. Activity levels differ depending on the time of the year so the same period of time is compared (summer). The data is for England overall.
There was a decrease in the percentage of children who were active and this was particularly the case among school years 5 (aged 9-10) to 6 (aged 10-11), although occurred for all school years beyond year 3 (aged 7-8). There was an increase among children in years 1 (aged 5-6) and 2 (aged 6-7). Levels of physical activity reduced for boys but increased for girls, and the percentage of children who were active remained relatively unchanged for children living in low affluent families and decreased for more affluent families. Some of these changes are perhaps associated with the types of activities undertaken by children of this age. Boys and children from more affluent families are perhaps more likely to attend sporting clubs like football and rugby, and these activities were less likely to occur during the pandemic. There was an emphasis on physical activities during the pandemic mainly fitness classes (TV or online) and walking, so it is possible that more girls were more likely to participate in these activities than would usually do so.
There was a relatively small decrease in the percentage of White British children who were active and an increase among children of other White backgrounds, but there were decreases for all other ethnic groups most marked among children with Black backgrounds.
A similar but reversed pattern was evident in terms of the percentage of children who were less active.
Strategic Need and Service Provision
In October 2014, The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (formerly Public Health England) published the national physical activity framework ‘Everybody Active, Every Day’ identifies four areas of local and national action: (i) Active Society – change the social norm to make physical activity the expectation; (ii) Moving Professionals – develop expertise and leadership within professionals and volunteers; (iii) Active Environments – create environments to support active lives; and (iv) Healthy at Work – identify and upscale successful programs nationwide.
Five years on, The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities commissioned an independent review of the framework. The review had three key objectives: (1) to assess progress towards the implementation of the Everybody Active Every Day through research with professionals at national and local level; (2) to review progress of implementation of Everybody Active Every Day through evidence-based practice; and (3) to co-produce strategic actions to accelerate the scale and impact of Everybody Active Every Day over the next five years (collaboratively with national and local stakeholders).
The Everybody Active, Every Day: Five Years On published in August 2021, noted that there had been progress in that there was an increased prominence of physical activity, improvements in active environments, and other improvements, but also noted that there were challenges with limited and uneven resource (human and financial) allocation as well as lack of time required to develop strong partnerships that are pivotal to joint commissioning. The review identified opportunities which include integration of physical activity in strategies and policies, guidance on collaboration and partnership working, understanding available resources for the scale of the challenge, achieving an active society, developing active environments, mobilising professionals, and moving at scale.
As mentioned above, there are physical activity guidelines in place, and the more time spent being physically active the greater the health benefits. The gains are the highest among those currently doing the lowest levels of activity as the improvements in health per additional minute of physical activity will be proportionately greater.
In order to help people to fulfil the physical activity guidelines and increase their physical activity, it is necessary to work together to create an environment that promotes physical activity and active transport in everyday settings for all ages, and ensure people understand the benefit of positive life choices and know how to access information and seek early support to change.
Hull’s Towards an Active Hull Partnership has developed a 10 year physical activity strategy: ‘Towards an Active Hull’ with the overarching aim to move 10,000 inactive adults to be active to bring Hull in line to national levels of activity, reduce levels of inactive children and lessen inequalities. The four strategic pillars for action identified in the strategy are: Active Design, Active Recreation, Sports and Volunteering, and Active Travel. There is also an emphasis on social marketing to encourage people to ‘just make small steps to make big changes’.
Chief Medical Officers guidelines for physical activity: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/832868/uk-chief-medical-officers-physical-activity-guidelines.pdf
Sport England. Active Lives. https://activelives.sportengland.org/
Hull’s Towards an Active Hull: https://www.hcandl.co.uk/sites/hcandl/files/media/Towards%20An%20Active%20Hull.pdf
Get Hull Active: www.gethullactive.co.uk
The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (formerly Public Health England). Everybody Active, Every Day: Framework for Physical Activity. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-a-framework-to-embed-physical-activity-into-daily-life
The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (formerly Public Health England). Everybody Active, Every Day: Five Years On. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-5-years-on/everybody-active-every-day-5-years-on
This page was last updated on 25 April 2022.
This page is due to be updated / checked in December 2022.