Home
Global Matrix on the Physical Activity of Children study highlights low English cycling uptake and inactive Scots

Children in England and Scotland are struggling to make the international grade in their use of active transport — cycling and walking — and in their general physical activity, according to a new global study released this week.

The Global Matrix on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth study found that children in Scotland were the least physically active out of the 15 countries from five continents.

The study evaluates each of the 15 countries through their performance in nine separate categories. Each country is issued with a report card detailing its performance in each category and grading that performance between an A+ and an F.

England and Scotland both struggled in the categories that directly analysed the level of active participation: overall physical activity and active transportation.

Both countries received C grades in the active transport category. Scotland sat at the bottom of the the overall physical activity category, with an F, while England didn't do much better, scoring a D+.

The study found that in England, children between the ages of 5 and 16 made 42% of their journeys to and from school by foot, but only 2% by bicycle.

The report stated how discouraging the low percentage of children cycling to and from school was, citing the various funding strategies that have been put in place.

In Scotland, the picture was similar. The study found that just over 50% of Scottish primary school children and 40%-50% of high school students commute by foot or bike.

In the overall physical activity category the two UK nations really struggled. Scotland's F grade came about as the study finding only 19% of boys and 11% of 11-15 year-olds meet the daily recommendation for 60 minutes moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The outlook was slightly rosier in D+ grade England. The statistics indicate that 33% of boys and 21% of girls aged 4–15 years old met government guidelines, but as the children grew into adolescents, those statistics fell to 28% of boys and 15% of girls meeting the physical activity guidelines.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, and were announced at the 2014 Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children in Toronto, Canada, by the event’s chairman Dr. Mark Tremblay.

Dr. Tremblay wrote in the preface for the Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children that the exercise in creating the global matrix allowed for the international comparison of nine common indicators via statistics gathered from 15 countries.

The study's focus was not to highlight the areas in need of specific improvement in each country, but rather to identify areas of country-specific strengths and concerns; and the illumination of international differences and disparities.

Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.

Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.

When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.

7 comments

Avatar
offshore_dave [63 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The state of our roads and the aggressive attitude of drivers doesn't do much to encourage our children onto the roads.

Was this factored in?

I certainly wouldn't encourage my children to cycle on the road to their high school.

I find though, that while children may not be hopping on their steeds to school, there is a lot of mountain bike activity, either in the woods or on organised trails.

These studies don't tell the whole story.

Avatar
adamthekiwi [134 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Every single one of us should be emailing or writing to our MPs, MSPs (where applicable) and councillors (writetothem.com), highlighting this report and asking what they intend to do about it. I've already done so.

Avatar
oozaveared [934 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
adamthekiwi wrote:

Every single one of us should be emailing or writing to our MPs, MSPs (where applicable) and councillors (writetothem.com), highlighting this report and asking what they intend to do about it. I've already done so.

Why what's a politician going to do about it? The government didn't make them lazy and sedentary and the government can't make them run about and eat carrots either. Write to their parents. No.. Too late... we should have written to their grandparents in the 70's and told them.

People waiting for the politicians and the government to make your life better, solve your problems, and blaming them if they don't make you fit, good looking and rich quickly enough is one of the reasons why we have a child obesity problem.

Avatar
adamthekiwi [134 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:

Why what's a politician going to do about it?

For a start, stop planning all transport infrastructure around cars, vans and lorries. Make cycling the transport priority that they've been promising for years but only paying lip service to.

Teach cycling and bicycle roadcraft in schools.

Ban cars from stopping near schools at pick-up and drop-off time.

Start enforcing the traffic laws (that would offer cyclists genuine protection if they were enforced). Start banning the @ssholes who are happy, through carelessness, recklessness or malice, to endanger or take the lives of those engaged in active transport.

How's that for a start?

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1550 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:

People waiting for the politicians and the government to make your life better, solve your problems, and blaming them if they don't make you fit, good looking and rich quickly enough is one of the reasons why we have a child obesity problem.

So its OK for politicians to actively make people's lives worse (by relentlessly favouring motorised transport over anything that involves physical activity) but asking them to stop doing that is 'waiting for them to make your life better'?

You do realise that politicians and the government are already rather strongly involved in people's lives? Its not as if we currently have a situation where they have no influence at all.

Avatar
Tovarishch [59 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

You must be joking. UK roads are featherbeds compared with many countries. Try riding your bike in central and Eastern Europe.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1550 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Tovarishch wrote:

You must be joking. UK roads are featherbeds compared with many countries. Try riding your bike in central and Eastern Europe.

Yeah, in the same spirit, this country is in a better state than Syria... so therefore its perfect and there's no need to want to change anything. Makes one wonder why we bother to have elections really, given that 'not being the worst country in the world' is all that one needs to aim for.