BHF researchers find physically active children are happier and more confident

2 July 2015        

Woman and man cycling along a country lane

New study to mark the launch of this summer’s Change4Life campaign shows physical, social and emotional benefits of exercise.

A new evidence review compiled by BHF researchers at the University of Oxford and Loughborough University, has identified strong evidence that participation in physical activity and sport has a positive impact on children’s social skills and self-esteem.

The study, commissioned by Public Health England, also shows further social benefits for children as a result of physical activity including increased confidence and peer acceptance, alongside a link to friendship.

The new campaign aims to inspire children to do 10 minute bursts of moderate to vigorous activity, inspired by Disney characters, throughout the day - and every day - in order to meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity children need.

Review author, Professor Charlie Foster, who leads two British Heart Foundation funded programs of research on physical activity and obesity, said:

“Whilst the physiological benefits of exercise to children’s health are widely recognised, the positive impact on children’s social and emotional development is lesser known, yet the evidence reviewed revealed a strong link between children who participate in physical activity and improved self-esteem, confidence, attention span and even academic achievements. Active kids are healthy kids, inside and out.”

Just 21% of boys and 16% of girls currently meet their recommended 60 minutes of activity each day. Over a third of children in the UK are overweight, yet 79% of parents with an overweight child do not recognise that they are, and of those that do, 41% do not realise that it is a health risk.

To sign up, visit Change4Life online and register to receive a free 10 Minute Shake Up pack. For more ideas about how ten minutes could change your life check out at our info on eating well, getting active and quitting smoking.