The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many aspects of children’s lives, not least their mental and physical health. They have had to stay indoors for up to 23 hours a day, had organised sports cancelled and been unable to gather socially to play. A 2010 study by Brockman et. al. found that exercise through active play was important in preventing the decline in physical activity which occurs around the end of primary school; and in enabling children to achieve their recommended level of physical activity. Findings from the Scottish Health Survey (2019) showed that there has been a decrease in the proportion of children aged 2–15 who met the recommended physical activity level over the last few years, going from 76% in 2016 to just 69% in 2019. Furthermore, during Health and Wellbeing meetings with my class most of my pupils expressed that instead of going out to play with friends during their down time, they were choosing to socialise with one another online via their game consoles.
The benefits of regular exercise for children include increasing concentration, encouraging healthy growth and development, lowering stress and improving fitness. Scotland has obesity and mental health crises and nurturing an understanding of the importance of physical activity from a young age is crucial to overcoming these. Research shows that physically active children are more likely to become physically active adults (Telama, 2009). The Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children NHS Foundation Trust states that children of all ages should “avoid spending long periods sitting down without moving… minimise time spent using computers or watching TV.” (NHS Foundation Trust, 2013). One in three children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese (Youth Sport Trust, 2020). This fact, alongside the sedentary nature of digital learning and pupils’ reliance on technology instigated the decision to encourage pupils to be more active.
The aim of this enquiry was to encourage children to be more physically active during online learning and observe the impacts of this.