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‘Vital’ for nurses to encourage children’s exercise

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Children aged between 5 and 15 should exercise Children aged between 5 and 15 should exercise for an hour a day

Nurses must promote physical activity in children to improve their health outcomes, a leading nursing figure has said after a study by the BHF revealed that approximately just a fifth of children perform the recommended amount of physical activity each day.

The study, performed by BHF researchers for the University of Oxford, found that only 21% of males and 16% of females aged between five and 15 currently do the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day. It also found that 33% of children were overweight, but 79% of parents do not recognise that their child is overweight. Of that group, 41% do not realise that a child being overweight is a health risk. The study also found a direct link between exercise and improved emotional and mental health in children.

Professor Viv Bennett, chief nurse at PHE said: 'It is vital that nurses know the wide range of benefits of being physically active and how lack of physical exercise is a causative factor in many illnesses. Working with children young people and families is vital as healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults.'

PHE has launched a campaign to encourage children to do the recommended 60 minutes of exercise each day. The campaign, Change4Life 10 Minute Shake, aims to prompt children to exercise vigorously in 10 minute bursts throughout the day, to meet the 60 minute target. PHE estimates that last year's campaign resulting in the UK's children engaging in physical activity for an additional 104 million minutes of last year.

Ms Bennett added: 'Nurses are well placed to promote physical activity in childhood. For example, one of the six health visitor high impact areas is 'Healthy weight, healthy nutrition', which includes physical activity and later this year PHE will be publishing guidance for school nurses on healthy weight pathways including both nutrition and physical activity.'

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