Physical Activity

To nurture the skills of resilience is key to providing young people with the ability to cope with stress, adversity, failure and challenges. Resilience is evident when young people have a greater ability to “bounce back” when faced with difficulties and achieve positive outcomes.

Resilience is required to pursue challenging and physical activities in favour of or an alternative to going on-line, engaging in social media or picking up the games console.

According to the latest Active Lives Survey of children and young people, nationally only 17.5% of children and young people (1.2m) are currently meeting the current Chief Medical Officers guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day. A further 25.7% (1.8m) sit just below this threshold taking part on average for 60+ minutes across the week, whilst 32.9% (2.3m) do less than an average of 30 minutes per day.

Percentage of Children meeting the Physical Activity guidelines Cambridgeshire and Peterborough England average
Children and Young People currently meeting the current CMO guidelines for Sport and Physical Activity 19.4% 17.5%
Children and Young people currently active on average for 60+ minutes per week 24.3% 25.7%
Children and Young people ‘fairly active’ doing an average of 30-59 minutes per day of physical activity 23.1% 23.9%
Children and Young People currently inactive, doing less than an average of 30 minutes physical activity per day. 33.2% 32.9%


Boys (20%) are more likely to be active than girls (14%) and this gap only gets wider from Years 5-6 (9-11yr olds) upwards

Government guidelines set out that children and young people should get 30 minutes of their daily physical activity through the school day and 30 minutes outside of school.  Data shows that 28% of children and young people do 30 minutes or more every day at school, while 22% do so outside school.

Interventions that are multi-component or adopt a whole school approach appear to be most effective. Teaching about the importance of physical activity, ensuring a supportive school culture and physical environment and engagement of the wider community and families.

  • Ensure staff are skilled
    • Schools should be supported to ensure staff have the confidence and competence to offer high quality experiences of both physical education and physical activity.

    Engage student voices

    • Enhancing children and young peoples’ ownership of physical activity delivery to ensure that activities meet their needs.
    • Create active environments
    • Access to, and integration in the school day of, open forests, parksand playgrounds are positively associated with physical activity levels.

    Offer choice and variety

    • Offering a variety of physical activity opportunities including free play can increase participation in physical activity
    • Embed in curriculum, teaching and learning e.g. children standing up and moving around every 20 minutes. Using physical activity games in other subjects e.g. maths
    • Increasing the amount of time spent being physically active can improve both physical development, educational outcomes and emotional development. Active children have better attention, behaviour and academic performance

    Promote active travel

    • Interventions to encourage active travel can play a key role in contributing to children and young people’s physical activity levels e.g. walking to school, using scooters or bikes.

    Embed monitoring and self evaluation

    • Self monitoring, for example through use of pedometers deployed with personal goal setting, has been found to support an increase in physical activity; particularly among children and young people who are likely to be the least active.

There is an association between being physically active and academic attainment and attention. Being physically active also helps to promote physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Children and young people who are physically active are more likely to continue the habit into adult life.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that all children aged between 5 and 18 should be active for a minimum of 60 minutes per day.

By the end of primary school pupils should know:

  • The characteristics and mental and physical benefits of an active lifestyle.
  • The importance of building regular exercise into daily and weekly routines and how to achieve this, for example a daily active mile or other forms of regular, vigorous exercise.
  • The risks associated with an inactive lifestyle (including obesity).

By the end of secondary school pupils should know:

  • The positive associations between physical activity and promotion of mental wellbeing, including as an approach to combat stress.
  • The characteristics and evidence of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, including the links between an inactive lifestyle and ill health, including cancer and cardio- vascular ill-health.