Only one in 30 Year 5 pupils are doing the recommended amount of exercise every day, according to new research.
Official guidelines recommend that children aged 5-18 do at least one hour of “moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity” every day to stay healthy.
But new research by Exeter and Plymouth universities found that just 3 per cent of children aged 9-10 achieved an average of 60 minutes of exercise every day.
Among the children surveyed, only 1 per cent of girls hit their daily target, compared with 5 per cent of boys.
The data was gathered from 807 Year 5 children from 32 schools in Devon using an activity-tracker watch for seven days.
“Our findings suggest that just under a third of children are achieving an average of 60 minutes per day, but only 3.2 per cent meet the 60-minute target every day,” said Dr Lisa Price, of the University of Exeter.
“We don’t know whether averaging 60 minutes a day will be different in terms of health outcomes compared with 60 minutes daily – more research is needed to look into this.
“We do know that most children aren’t doing enough physical activity and that this has consequences not just in childhood, but in adulthood, too.”
The data will add to concerns that major drops in the amount of time allocated to PE in schools is having a detrimental effect on young people's physical and mental wellbeing.
New statistics released this month found that a record 4 per cent of Year 6 pupils are now classified as being severely obese.
Children in deprived areas are four times more likely to be heavily overweight, the figures show, making them more likely to suffer from poor self-esteem, bullying and stigma. They are also more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, according to Public Health England, thereby increasing their risk of preventable illnesses, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer.