6 in 10 children in Greater Manchester do not meet recommended activity levels

  • 6 in 10 children in Greater Manchester do not meet recommended activity levels 
  • Only 1 in 5 are children are active enough outside of school
  • Only 40% of children in Greater Manchester do an average of more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Four Greater Manchester boroughs are above the national average of children being active every day



Only 40% of children (5-16 year olds) in Greater Manchester do an average of more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This is 3.4% below the national average, as found in a first-of-its-kind survey.

The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey shows that 153,600 Greater Manchester children (39.9%) lead active lives which is below England’s average (43.3%). Of that group, only 63,600 (16.5% versus England’s 17.5%) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer for England’s guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.

The survey is the largest ever of its kind, with views from 130,000 children and young people across England. It gives comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity, both in and out of school.

Figures also show that more than 137,800 children in Greater Manchester (35.8% versus the national average of 32.9%) are less active, meaning they do fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

Bolton, Bury, Salford and Wigan are above the national average with Bolton reaching one in four (24.7%) children being active every day.

The survey also found national inequalities in physical activity levels; a gender gap with 22.2% of boys compared to 15.4% of girls more likely to be active; children from more affluent families are more active; those with a disability are slightly less active than those without; girls from Asian and Black backgrounds are more likely to be less active.

Activity levels every day for meeting the guidelines are higher in school compared to outside of school both nationally and in Greater Manchester. Greater Manchester has 26.9% of children reaching the recommended 30 mins or more which is slightly behind England (27.7%). Outside school this figure drops to 19.9% versus England’s average of 21.5%.

Therefore, more needs to be done both in and out school to meet the recommend Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines; to exceed the national average and to meet GM Moving ambition of 75% of the population active.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said;“I am fully committed to making Greater Manchester the best place for individuals to grow and develop. Through encouraging more children to become physically active we will enable future generations to achieve their personal goals and reach their full potential.

“We have already made good progress in the city-region but need to break down the barriers that stop people getting active. With the ambitions of GM Moving, Chris Boardman’s Made to Move efforts and our commitment to the Daily Mile, I am confident that we can secure the fastest and greatest improvement to the health wealth and wellbeing of the 2.8 million people in Greater Manchester.”  

Sara Tomkins, CEO at GreaterSport said; “Research shows that physical activity and fitness track into adulthood, so it is essential our children are active and this survey shows we are not doing enough in Greater Manchester both in and out of school to ensure our children remain happy and healthy.

We therefore welcome today’s survey as it provides useful insight on our children and the findings will shape our work in engaging Greater Manchester’s young people, parents, schools, teachers and partners as we aim to get 2 million people moving across Greater Manchester.” 

Sarah Price, executive lead for population health at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which is overseeing the devolution of the city region’s health and social care said; “Supporting and inspiring people of all ages to be active is a vital part of our ambition to transform the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone in Greater Manchester. That’s why we’re investing £2 million to become the UK’s first walking city region and help hundreds of our schools and nurseries to take part in The Daily Mile. Today’s figures show the scale of the challenge we are facing. But we are confident that by all working together and in new ways, we can achieve our vision for Greater Manchester and make physical activity an everyday part of the lives of millions of our children and their families”      

Lisa Fathers, Director of Teaching School & Partnerships (Bright Futures Educational Trust) and Co-Chair of GM Headteacher Alliance PE, Sport, Health said;“I would urge all Headteachers here in Greater Manchester to support our children and young people in enabling them to develop through activity. Initiatives such as The Daily Mile, which was recently highlighted on Coronation Street, have the ability to improve academic and overall life outcomes for young people. Improved self-confidence, social skills and mental health are all benefits that increased physical activity can provide. We need to ensure we still prioritise PE in our schools too. We hope our connected, joined up cross -sector working with things like the Mentally Healthy Schools Rapid Pilot will make a sustained impact for children and young people going forward in Greater Manchester.”

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