BRITISH children do less exercise from the age of seven onwards, years earlier than thought, experts say.
A study of 400 youngsters found levels declined in both sexes, with the fall no steeper during adolescence than in earlier childhood.
Four out of five boys, and all the girls, failed to maintain even moderate amounts of exercise over the eight years they were tracked.
It is recommended that children have at least an hour of physical activity a day. The NHS classifies cycling and playground activities as moderate exercise.
The findings overturn the prevailing view that the decline only starts in adolescence and is gender-specific, said Prof John Reilly, of Strathclyde university in Glasgow.
‘The study suggests that total volume of physical activity is already declining by age seven in the UK,’ he said. ‘Future research and public health policy should focus on preventing the decline in physical activity which begins in childhood.’
Previous studies showed smart phones, tablets and game consoles among children are suspected of being behind the trend. Over a third of ten to 11-year-olds and 20 per cent of four and five-year-olds are overweight.