Children in Suffolk are less active than the national average

Left: Active Week at West Row Academy Right: Englands Karate school run classes in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket

Left: Active Week at West Row Academy Right: Englands Karate school run classes in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket - Credit: Active Suffolk/Englands Karate School

The percentage of children in Suffolk taking part in 60 minutes of physical activity each day is lower than the national average, despite a post-lockdown increase in youngsters in the county enjoying sport.

Across England 44.6% of children completed 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day - compared with 42% in Suffolk. 

However, the Active Lives data for children and young people, released by Sport England, does show a 4.2% increase in the number of children in Suffolk that are active for 60 or more minutes each day. 

The data is compared with the previous academic year which included the first coronavirus lockdown, when outdoor exercise was limited to one hour a day. 

Active Week at West Row Academy

Active Week at West Row Academy which was supported by Abbeycroft Leisure, West Suffolk Council and Active Suffolk as part of the Active Schools project - Credit: Active Suffolk

A spokesman for Active Suffolk, said: "Activity levels for children and young people in Suffolk are on the rise again after a turbulent year which at the height of the pandemic earlier this year saw activity fall significantly."

Responding to the data, Adrian Orr, assistant director for education and learning at Suffolk County Council, said: "I am delighted to hear that activity levels for the children and young people of Suffolk are on the rise again. 

"It has been an incredibly challenging 20 months for children and families and so much of what we took for granted has not been possible. 

Most Read

"Physical health and activity are central to wellbeing and this news bodes well for a positive outlook in 2022." 

Gareth Davies, director of Active Suffolk, said: ""We are delighted with the latest Active Lives results for children and young people but are mindful that there is still a significant amount of work to do in order to return activity levels to pre-pandemic levels."

Mr Davies praised the support of local authorities across Suffolk, where "targeted interventions" including the Active School's programme in West Suffolk, are "yielding particularly positive results".

The Active School's programme has seen Abbeycroft Leisure partner with Active Suffolk to develop and deliver a bespoke physical activity development plan for each school that has signed up to the initiative. 

Jo Rayner, portfolio holder for leisure, culture and community hubs at West Suffolk Council, said: ""I am glad to see once again West Suffolk is leading the way in vital initiatives to help support our communities keep fit and healthy.

"The pandemic has shown the link between people's wellbeing and the need to encourage people to stay healthy as they can. This is achieved by a range of partners working together on a number of supporting initiatives to reach a common goal."

Englands Karate School

Stephanie England who runs Englands Karate School sessions in Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds said she did see activity levels drop during lockdown - but is pleased the number of children exercising is now rising again - Credit: Englands Karate School

The average data from Suffolk showed that 26.8% of children in Suffolk complete 30-59 minutes of physical activity a day, with 31.2% taking part in exercise for 30 minutes or less. 

Across England the national daily average for children taking part in exercise is 23% for 30-59 minutes and 32.4% for 30 minutes or less. 

'I think lockdown has shown how important keeping active is' 

Stephanie England who runs Englands Karate School sessions in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket said that she is feeling hopeful that number of children taking part in daily activity will keep rising. 

Miss England, said: "We managed to to carry on providing karate lessons for all ages through lockdown, we stuck to our timetable and tried to keep things as normal as possible but after a few months we did notice the numbers drop.

"We were then able to provide group sessions outside but because of the rule of six we weren't able to take on any new students so when we were able to start up again we did see a rush of new members." 

Englands Karate School

Stephanie England, who runs Englands Karate School, says she has found it a challenge to run karate clubs at schools in Suffolk because many aren't allowing this sort of activity due to coronavirus restrictions. - Credit: Englands Karate School

Though Englands Karate School caters from ages for all ages, Miss England said there was a particular increase in children aged seven to eight wanting to get active post lockdown. 

She added: "I think lockdown has shown how important keeping active is, how much children do enjoy keeping active - they would wake up and look forward to taking part in Joe Wicks PE lessons."

Englands Karate School

Englands Karate School will be offering a free trial to any children in Stowmarket or Bury St Edmunds that are looking to get active in the new year - Credit: Englands Karate School