‘Profound impact’ of pandemic leads to major drop in youngsters exercising for just half an hour

Concerns have been raised over the pandemic’s ‘profound impact’ on the number of young people in Stockport taking any form of regular exercise.

A council report shows that nearly 40pc of young people report doing less than 30 minutes of activity per day on average over a week.

This figure, for the 2020/21 academic year, compares unfavorably with 2018/19, when the same measure stood at just over 27pc.

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In other words, that’s a drop of more than 10pc in those who were active for at least half and hour on a typical day.

No meaningful results are available for 2019/20 due to the number of pandemic-related school closures.

However, the percentage of young people doing an average of 60 minutes of exercise per day has also dropped from just shy of 46pc to 40pc.

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According to the report, the drop off has been more pronounced in Stockport than the Greater Manchester, regional and national averages.

“The pandemic therefore appears to have had a profound impact on young people’s activity levels in Stockport – more so than for the adult population as well as for young people, on average, in other areas,” it reads.

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This was picked up by Coun Shan Alexander when the findings went before a town hall scrutiny committee on Monday night.

“I think what’s happened is a lot of children have got used to being at home and the school facilities have dropped for the pandemic,” the Marple South and High Lane councillor said.

Councilor Shan Alexander.

“I would like to know what has happened with this area to encourage young people to come out and enjoy the outside. We need young people getting fitter. We can’t keep having this as a red symbol. I understand this is due to the pandemic and they couldn’t come out.

“What more could we do?”

Jen Connolly, the council’s director of public health, acknowledged it was a ‘really concerning statistic’.

“I think it reflects how important schools are in encouraging and enabling physical activity for our children because we have seen that big change during the time of the pandemic and also the other restrictions that have obviously been in place.

“A big focus within [the counci’s] Active Communities strategy is how we bolster the promotion of physical activity out-and-about in green space, not wholly reliant on particular settings like gyms and so on.

“It’s absolutely thinking about how we activate our green spaces so that they are somewhere people want to go, use and get involved in developing for themselves as well.”

Coun Lisa Walker also suggested the council could help with the cost of joining football clubs or dancing schools, noting some activities could be ‘quite pricey’.

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“I wonder if we could offer some financial assistance for these young people and get them into sporting activities?” she added.

Stockport council’s communities and housing scrutiny committee met at the town hall on Monday night (February 28).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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