The World Health Organisation reports that urgent action is needed to increase physical activity levels in girls and boys aged 11 to 17 years, with 80% of school-going adolescents globally not meeting current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day.

“The study highlights that young people have the right to play and should be provided with the opportunities to realise their right to physical and mental health and wellbeing,” says co-author Dr Fiona Bull, WHO.

The study which is based on data reported by 1.6 million 11 to 17 year old students, finds that across all 146 countries studied between 2001-2016 girls were less active than boys in all but four.

“Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” says study author Dr Regina Guthold, WHO.

Children and young people need time, space and permission to play or hang out. As children get older the opportunity to spend time relaxing or hanging out with friends becomes increasingly important as the time spent on schoolwork and/or structured activities increases.

For tips check out our Play Matters Older Children at Play information sheet.