Physical activity level among children in England 2008-2012, by gender

Physical activity level trend among children in England in 2008 and 2012, by gender

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Release date

December 2014


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

2008 and 2012

Number of respondents


Age group

5-15 years

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

* Weighted bases: n (boys 2008) = 2,628, n (boys 2012) = 672, n (girls 2008) = 2,495, n (girls 2012) = 637.
The source provides the following information about the data:
- Meets recommendations: Physically active for at least 60 minutes on all 7 days per week.
- Some activity: Physically active for 30-59 minutes on all 7 days.
- Low activity: Fewer than 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity on each day, or moderate to vigorous intensity activity of 60 minutes or more on fewer than seven days in the last week.
- Excludes walking or cycling to/from school.
The structure of the questions about active travel to school differs from the structure for all other types of physical activity, since journeys were not related to specific weekdays. Thus it is not possible to combine walking and cycling to/from school with other occasions of walking and cycling in assessing the total amount of activity undertaken each day for the summary activity levels. The summary variable also excludes activity while at school, whether formal lessons or other activity. Overall, the summary variable therefore underestimates total time being physically active but probably overestimates time spent in MVPA.
Sports and activities have been classified as informal (active play) or formal, such as organised games (e.g. football, basketball). The groups of activities used for analysis in this chapter include:
- Walking (excluding walking to or from school): Walking is presented as part of the informal group of activities. It has been analysed separately as an activity of policy interest. The walks included are of any duration.
- Informal activities: Activities in this group include cycling (excluding to/from school), dancing, skating, trampolining, hopscotch, active play, skipping rope, and housework and gardening.
- Formal sports: Activities in this group include any organised team sports such as football, rugby, cricket, netball, as well as running or athletics, all types of swimming, gymnastics, weight training, aerobics and tennis.
Where the 'total physical activity' variable has been included in the tables, it is an aggregate of the grouped activities listed above.
Walking or cycling to/from school is reported separately from other walking and cycling in these analyses, because active travel to and from school is an important opportunity for physical activity by children.
Firgures for 2008 differ from those shown in HSE 2008 report, as the summary activity levels were calculated incorrectly in 2008. The summary activity levels were calculated by summing the reported activity for each day of the week to arrive at a weekly total. In 2008, for some days of the week, the variable was correctly derived by starting with zero activity, and then adding in all formal activities and all informal activities. For other days of the week, instead of starting with zero activity, the starting point was the sum of formal and informal activities, and these were then incorrectly added in again. Thus the overall summary activity variable previously reported for 2008 double-counted activity on five days of the week. Corrected firgures are included in the 2012 report.

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