Press release

Number of children getting enough physical activity drops by 40%

Change4Life together with Disney and Sport England launches '10 Minute Shake Up' campaign to help get children more active.

A little girl on the left hand corner of the picture running on a field

The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school.

A new survey from Public Health England (PHE) and Disney looking at the effects of physical activity on children’s emotional wellbeing, found:

  • being active made the majority of 5 to 11 year olds feel happier (79%), more confident (72%), and more sociable (74%), according to their parents
  • nearly all children said they liked being active (93%)
  • the main motivations for kids to be more active was having friends to join in (53%) and having more activities they liked to choose from (48%)
  • children’s overall happiness declines with age; 64% of 5 and 6 year olds said they always feel happy, compared to just 48% of 11 year olds
  • 19% of children said they were less active due to a lack of sports or activities they enjoyed

To help kids do more activity throughout the summer holidays, Change4Life is today launching its national 10 Minute Shake Ups programme with Disney and schools across the country.

The programme offers fun, 10-minute activities for kids, featuring their favourite Disney characters and shows as inspiration. The activities, designed for children to do anywhere in small or large groups with their friends, help children get more of the 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity they need each day for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight.

Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.

Eustace de Sousa, National Lead for Children, Young People and Families, PHE says:

Children’s physical activity levels in England are alarmingly low, and the drop in activity from the ages of 5 to 12 is concerning. Children who get enough physical activity are mentally and physically healthier, and have all round better development into adulthood - getting into the habit of doing short bursts of activity early can deliver lifelong benefits. This programme is part of our work to help children get the right amount of physical activity, both in school and out, as set out in the Childhood Obesity Plan.

The survey also identified the main barriers to physical activity and reveals that the worry of ‘not being very good’ was one of the most common, affecting 22% of children. This increases with age as it affects just 17% of 5 year olds, compared to 29% of 11 year olds.

The 10 Minute Shake Ups programme focuses on fun activities all children can do and is being supported by a number of Team GB athletes, including Olympic swimmer Keri-anne Payne, who have lent their voices to the campaign to encourage more children to take part and illustrate the benefits of physical activity.

Keri-anne Payne, Olympic marathon swimmer and ambassador of SportsAid, says:

Physical activity has always been an important part of my life, as I started swimming from a very young age. But being active is not just for Olympians, it’s for everyone. The 10 Minute Shake Ups provide a load of fun activities to get kids moving more. Anyone can try them and they are a great way for kids, their friends and the whole family to get moving throughout the summer.

10 Minute Shake Ups is run in collaboration with Disney and Sport England. The new Shake Ups will feature characters from Disney Pixar’s latest animation Cars 3, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Frozen Fever, and Zootropolis, as well as the stars of The Lodge.

Marianthi O’Dwyer, Vice President and Head of Disney Healthy Living UK says:

We know Disney stories and characters can help inspire children and families to be more active by making it simple and fun. As part of Disney’s global healthy living commitment, since 2006 we have been looking at ways to support families to live more healthily.

Last year’s successful Finding Dory ‘just keep moving’ campaign with the ASA and Change4Life saw over 70,000 families take part in family swim sessions at hundreds of pools across the UK. Highlighting the power of partnership, we are excited to continue working together with Change4Life on the 10 Minute Shake Up programme to encourage children to be more active.

Sport England will help families try new sports and physical activities locally, whether at their local park leisure centre or through a well-known sport.

Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director of Children and Young People says:

Tackling inactivity is a key part of Sport England’s strategy Towards An Active Nation, and we’re supporting families and children to get active together, using National Lottery funding. We know that parents can find getting their kids to be active a challenge. That’s why we’re proud to be supporting the Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Ups with Disney, which uses storytelling to create a fun, and imaginative way for children and their parents to get moving, perfectly timed for the summer holidays.

Last year, the 10 Minute Shake Ups programme helped over a million children get more active. When children return to school in September, more activities will be released on the Change4Life schools website to encourage them to carry on being active both in and outside the classroom.


For more information, please search ’10 Minute Shake Ups’ online or visit:

The opinium survey for Public Health England questioned 1,005 children aged 5 to 11 and 1,004 parents of children aged 5 to 11 in England about their attitudes to physical activity and took place in June 2017.

For further information and interview opportunities please contact: or by telephone on 020 3003 6415 or 07949 717217.

Interviews are available with:

  • Team GB Olympian Keri-anne Payne
  • Eustace de Sousa (National Lead for Children, Young People and Families, PHE)
  • Professor Paul Cosford (Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, PHE)
  • Marianthi O’Dwyer, Vice President and Head of Disney Healthy Living UK
  • Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director of Children and Young People
  • case studies are also available on request

This year’s 10 Minute Shake Ups are focused on exploring new skills and navigating through 6 magical Disney worlds. Worksheets styled as passports and suitcases will be distributed to the primary schools in England. Inspired by key characters from 6 Disney stories, children will be able to ‘stamp’ their passports with stickers every time they do 10 minutes of activity and pack their suitcase with Shake Ups ideas they have developed in class.

Lesson plans for teachers will also be available on the Change4Life School Zone website to get pupils practising and designing their own 10 Minute Shake Ups in school, to help them stay active all through the summer holidays. In the autumn term, more Change4Life lesson plans and activities will be available on the School Zone to keep pupils active throughout the school day.

Change4Life is a campaign run by PHE to help families to eat well, move more and live longer. PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.

Dr Ellie Cannon, GP and author:

Physical activity and participation in sport has been found to be linked to better child emotional and social development, and positive self-esteem which any parent wants for their child. Attitudes to physical activity are ingrained from childhood so participating in physical activity as a family is important.

About Disney’s Healthy Living Commitment

In 2006, The Walt Disney Company made a global commitment to support parents and create healthier families by using its stories and characters to make healthy living simple and fun. Since 2006, Disney has been looking at the different ways it can support families to live more healthily.

This includes introducing robust nutritional guidelines for food and drinks as well as their advertising, offering content that positively focuses on healthier lifestyles such as Disney Channel’s First Class Chefs and Aim High, and inspiring activity and healthier eating through programmes such as Change4Life ’10 Minute Shake Up’ and Disney’s #HealthilyEverAfter marketing campaign.

About The Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $52.5 billion in its last fiscal year, the highest in the company’s history (FY15).

The Walt Disney Company has operated in the UK and Ireland for over 80 years, employing more than 2,900 people, and is dedicated to creating innovative, entertainment experiences for children and families. The Disney brand is experienced in a number of ways across the UK and Ireland including in cinemas, on stage with ‘The Lion King’, on TV screens with Disney-branded channels as well as non-branded content, through a wide range of consumer products that are sold at mass market retailers and in Disney Stores.

In 2008, Disney announced its partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity with a £10 million fundraising pledge towards the hospital’s redevelopment appeal, which it achieved in October 2014. Disney continues to support the charity and provides unique and memorable experiences for patients and their families.

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

Published 17 July 2017