Inactivity in children: the leisure industry has a part to play

Research published earlier this month found that less than one in five children and young people meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines to achieve more than 60 minutes of activity a day.

The statistics, published in Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, were branded a “national disgrace” by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, paralympian and chair of not-for-profit industry organisation ukactive. She went on:

“These figures show that 83% of children are failing to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity and less affluent families are suffering most. We want to see Government support every community to make better use of our parks, open spaces, school facilities and leisure centres, so that children from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to live happy, active and social lives every day of the year.”

Other experts described the figures as “an urgent wake-up call” and “deeply concerning”. Emma Boggis, CEO of the Sports and Recreation Alliance, said:

“Today’s results confirm that our children and young people are not active enough to be happy and healthy and collectively we are in danger of breeding a generation of children that will die earlier than their parents.”

Making fitness fun – for everyone

That’s a deeply worrying conclusion, and one that begs an obvious question. What can be done to help children become more active? Clearly, the initiatives of organisations like the Sports and Recreation Alliance and ukactive are a good place to start.

But there are other options, too. For example, there is a clear opportunity for activity-based leisure operators to get involved, encouraging children to embrace exercise in safe, fun and non-competitive environments. Soft play centres, trampoline parks and inflatable arenas can all help to instil a love of activity in children, and that’s especially true of kids who may be put off by traditional competitive sports.

Teepee: experts at leisure

At Teepee Digital, we have been working with leisure industry clients for a number of years, designing and developing their websites and creating and implementing digital marketing strategies. We are specialists in search engine optimisation, pay per click, email marketing and content marketing. We currently perform all these tasks on behalf of rapidly expanding leisure operator Inflata Nation.

As part of our content strategy, we often blog and post about the health benefits of these kinds of high intensity play sessions. It’s self-evidently true that a session at an Inflata Nation arena – or a trampoline park, soft-play centre, splash park or roller skating circuit – is both fabulous fun and fantastic exercise.

Part of the solution

And the beauty of these facilities is that everyone can enjoy them, regardless of body shape, ability, coordination or natural athleticism. For children who may have been made to feel inadequate on a school rugby pitch (and that includes us!), the combination of activity and unstructured play is a wonderful way to remind them that staying fit can be joyful and easy. After all, everyone can bounce, climb, slide and clamber, and at the heart of Inflata Nation is the simple truth that falling down is as much fun as staying upright.

Of course, we’re not saying that inflatable arenas and trampoline parks have all the answers. These dispiriting figures require a coordinated and wide-ranging response. But by being inclusive and easy to enjoy, they can certainly help. And at Teepee Digital we will continue to promote the health benefits of unstructured and uninhibited play (as opposed to organised sport) on behalf of our leisure clients.

For more information on what Teepee can do for your business, please contact us.