New figures have revealed more than nine out of 10 toddlers are not doing enough exercise to stay healthy.
Just nine per cent of children aged between two and four are getting the advisable three hours of physical activity per day. The benefits of being active include improving bone health and supporting brain development, while also helping social and mental skills to develop.
Now experts are asking the Government to come up with new ways of supporting more exercise for children.
The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC), based at Loughborough University, are asking politicians to include stipulations for more exercise in policies – encouraging young children at nursery and in their communities to be given more opportunities to stay active.
“This manifesto outlines how we can create an environment for our children that encourages them and stimulates them to be active,” Elaine McNish, director of the BHFNC, said. “This manifesto is a call to policy makers to ensure that early years settings are supported to create active environments.
“We know that active children are more likely to become active adults so it’s vitally important to get it right at the beginning to give children opportunities to play from a young age and develop a lifelong love of being active.”
With obesity proving an increasingly difficult problem to solve among adults, it is believed that encouraging activity from a very young age may help prevent weight problems as the children get older.
“We know that physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle for everyone and the under-fives are no different,” Lisa Young, project manager for prevention and behaviour change at the British Heart Foundation, added.
“Developing a love of being active from a young age is important as we know active children become active adults, and active adults are healthier adults.”