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Kids stay active informally

A pioneering report into children's physical activity has found that the demise of street footballers and the rise of the young couch potato may have been exaggerated.

The Stirling University study, commissioned by Stirling Council, suggests that official measures of young people's physical activity tend to be too focused on organised sessions, but that most children play outdoors informally several times a week. It also found many barriers preventing children from taking part in sport. But it also found that the Scottish weather is more off-putting than lack of facilities.

The study is believed to be based on the first longitudinal research into sport and physical activity in Scotland. It tracked 140 children over three years, from P6 to S1.

Concerted physical activity among children - sessions of at least an hour - took place frequently in their own communities outside school. More than 60 per cent were active four or more times a week after school and before their evening meal; 51 per cent after their evening meals; and 59 per cent were physically active on both weekend days.

The study found that children would have played outdoors even more but were put off by vandalism and intimidating groups of older teenagers.

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