Two-thirds of primary school-age children are failing to reach the recommended levels of fitness for their age group, experts have warned.
A new study of 10,000 five to 11-year-olds found that 67 per cent were unable to reach targets in running, jumping and throwing.
Meanwhile, a quarter – 24 per cent – fell ‘significantly below’ the recommended levels, indicating that fitness is a cause for concern.
Fit For Sport, which conducted the tests, said the results show that parents and schools must do more to increase children’s activity levels to ensure they stay healthy.
The children were assessed as they were asked to carry out the Activity Challenge.
It involved a series of tests created to check various aspects of fitness, including stamina, agility, co-ordination and cardiovascular endurance.
The aim was to establish a good idea of the children’s fitness and physical literacy.
It found that just over a third (36 per cent) of five to seven-year-olds were at an adequate level of fitness.
That number fell to 32 per cent and 33 per cent for eight to nine and 10 to 11-year-olds respectively.
The guidelines set out by the chief medical officer recommend that children spend 60 minutes a day being physically active – yet only 21 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls achieve this.
The lowest results were recorded in running challenges that test cardiovascular endurance, indicating that not only are many children getting too little physical activity, they are also failing to spend enough time doing vigorous intensity activity where they are out of breath and their heart rate increases.
Fit For Sport founder Dean Horridge, said: ‘Parents know how well their children perform academically, but they often have no idea how fit their kids are.
‘Two-thirds of the 10,000 children we tested were unable to meet achievable levels of fitness, like completing 60 star jumps in one minute.
‘This is a clear call to action.
‘Physical inactivity is a ticking time bomb for the UK’s health and both parents and schools must make sure children are spending enough time being active to improve their fitness and health levels now, and set them off on a journey to an active life.’