Physical Activity in Children

The Population

An active lifestyle which includes a good amount of physical activity is important for everyone, especially children. Physical activity helps children keep a healthy body weight, improve their mood, keep their heart and lungs health and lowers the risk of several diseases and long term health conditions. The current physical activity guidelines for children and young people aged 5-18 years are to take part in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per day. The Wakefield Children and Young People’s Survey collects information on health and related behaviours from primary school children aged 9 to 10 and secondary pupils aged 13-14. The last survey was carried out in 2016, and information on this page has been sourced from the results. For a complete summary, please visit the Children’s Health and Related Behaviours Questionnaire (HRBQ) page.


  • Around 65% of all children surveyed in Wakefield want to be more active
  • More than a quarter of 9-10 year olds do less than the recommended amount of daily exercise 
  • Over half of inactive 9-10 year olds think that they do enough exercise


The Inequality

The amount of physical activity people undertake depends on many factors, including community service provision and accessibility, which can create inequality between areas and individuals. There is significant inequality in physical activity in children. Survey data shows that children from the most deprived areas of the Wakefield district are significantly less active than those from the least deprived areas – 19% of 9-10 year olds from the least deprived areas did less than the recommended daily amount of exercise, compared to 35% in the most deprived areas. This trend is also true for 13-14 year olds, where children from the least deprived households are twice as active as those from the most deprived.

There are also major differences in activity levels between boys and girls, particularly as children get older. The gap between numbers of boys doing less than 1 hour of physical activity per day compared to girls increases from 7% to 14%, with 31% of boys aged 16-17 recording doing less than 1 hour of activity per day compared to 45% of girls.

Community Assets


Service Provision

Wakefield Council has a number of weight management and physical activity schemes for people in the district. Currently, it is currently piloting a number of 12-week programmes with a range of service providers to help shape the service specification for the Children and Families Weight Management Service. These include family-orientated programmes, such as ‘Ossett Family Fit’, ‘Family Rugby League’, and ‘Fun Family Fitness’ and have the potential to become part of the wider service provision for Wakefield district. For more information on these programmes, please contact Debbie Hastings in the first instance, as information is subject to change.

Community Assets

Other Resources

Download the JSNA Wakefield physical activity in children infographic

View an infographic on the children’s physical activity guidelines

Read the NHS guidelines on physical activity for children and young people

Change 4 Life – The change 4 life initiative supports schools and families to make healthier lifestyle choices around exercise and nutrition.