The recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise for children and young people should combine moderate, vigorous and strengthening activities.
- Moderate Intensity would include brisk walking or cycling. Activity that causes you to get warmer, breathe harder, and your heart beat faster. You should still be able to carry on a conversation or sing a song.
- Vigorous Intensity would include running, actively participating in a sport, or cycling up a hill. Causing you to get hotter, sweat and breathe faster. You shoud not be able to maintain a conversation or sing a song.
- Strengthening Activities require more controlled muscle use such as climbing or yoga.
Helping children and young people enjoy physical activity in children, and develop positive habits and routines is important. It makes it more likely they will continue to be active into adulthood.
Many families have low activity levels and schools can play a vital role in helping young people -both ‘sporty’ and not - find activity they enjoy and can continue to participate in.
Regular physical activity has been shown to help prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases.
The health of the population is a growing cause for concern.
- Type 2 diabetes and Heart Disease are more common and affect people at an earlier age.
- 1 in 3 of the working age population have at least 1 long term condition and
- 1 in 7 have more than one long term condition.
Early healthy habits can make all the difference to young people’s long term wellbeing.
Technology and screen time have brought many positives to modern life – it can seem easier to keep connected with friends and family. Technology means we have a wealth of information at our fingertips - we can be ‘entertained’ 24/7.
Alongside the benefits there are concerns about how it impacts on our health and wellbeing - with an increase in social pressure and a reduction in activity and face to face interactions.
It is a particular concern of how the use of screens may affect the health and wellbeing of children and young people now and in the future.
In 2015 a study by Ofcom found that the time 8-15 year olds spent online doubled between 2005 and 2015.
- Over the same period only a slight increase was shown in TV viewing time.
- Over a third (37.3 per cent) of UK 15 year olds are ‘extreme internet users’ – using the internet for more than 6 hours a day at weekends.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) records statistics for 30 countries in the developed world. Only Chile had a higher number of ‘extreme internet users’ than the UK (Social media and children’s mental health a review of the evidence - June 2017).
So what does this mean for children and young people?
Screen light mimics daytime and supresses the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone...
- Screen use in the dark can supress melatonin release for several hours.
- Stimulating content (e.g. gaming) keeps the brain active and make it difficult to ‘switch off.’
- Babies exposed to screen media in the evening hours showed significantly shorter night-time sleep duration, compared to those with no evening screen exposure.
- Screen time increases sedentary behaviour which has been shown to impact on sleep quality.
The ‘Social media and children’s mental health a review of the evidence - June 2017’ showed evidence of a beneficial impact on wellbeing. Young people recognise the value of opportunities to connect online. It can increase social connections, and enable young people to develop their identities and creativity.
However research has also identified a range of risks associated with social media, including;
- Encouraging excessive time online.
- Sharing too much information.
- Being cyber-bullied.
- Negative body image.
- Sourcing harmful content or advice.
The evidence suggests a ‘dose-response’ relationship, where each additional hour a child views increasing the likelihood of socio-emotional problems and the risk of low self-esteem.
It is difficult for schools to offer advice to guide children and parents on the appropriate level of screen time. There are currently no hard research findings on what is a ‘safe level’ of screen use. However educating and supporting children and families to set realistic limits seems appropriate.
In January 2019 the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health issued this advice to families based on best evidence;
‘Our primary recommendation is that families should negotiate screen time limits with their children based upon the needs of an individual child, the ways in which screens are used and the degree to which use of screens appears to displace (or not) physical and social activities and sleep.’
Many phones will record the amount of screen time being used. There are also Apps available that track technology use. This can help children and young people manage screen use better.
- 'Heavy media use during preschool years is associated with small but significant increases in BMI and sets the stage for weight gain later in childhood’ (Media and young minds – 2016).
- A recent study of 2-year-olds found that BMI increased for every hour per week of media consumed’ (Media and young minds – 2016).
- These associations are believed to be linked to exposure to advertising and eating whilst watching a screen.
- Exposure to food advertising has both immediate and longer term impact on children’s health. It encourages greater consumption immediately after watching an advert as well as altering children’s food preferences (Childhood obesity: a plan for action chapter 2).
- Participate in a GOV.uk self-assessment of how healthy your schools is *here*.
- Work with your local council to create safe routes to school, where children, young people and their families are able to walk, cycle or skate to school safely.
- Access support from Active Norfolk – for advice and support around the PE and sport premium and on delivering high quality PE and sport *here*.
- Participate in the daily mile scheme *here*.
- Community Sports Foundation offer support for schools – clubs and training *here*.
- Some families may benefit from signposting to parenting courses for help with implementing boundaries. The Solihull Parenting Approach is available free for Norfolk Families via Just One Norfolk *here*.
Public Health England School Zone have developed the following resources:
- Try your best - lesson starter Powerpoint
- Active School Day - whole school assembly Powerpoint
- Active role play lesson starter powerpoint
ActiveKidsDoBetter is free to all schools and includes a welcome pack and digital toolkit to help your class get moving.
Active Norfolk have developed some free resources suitable for all school staff and governors, to help use physical activity to overcome and manage some of the challenges to learning the Covid-19 pandemic has presented. Resources include an e-learning module for school staff and Physical Activity in Schools Guide. Download this poster to promote the resources amongst colleagues.
Nuffield Health School Wellbeing Activity Programme (SWAP) - free 6 week programme of evidence based lessons delivered in six one hour sessions. The programme is aimed at children aged 9-12 years old but can be adapted for other school age children. The four key themes are:
- How I Move - focusing on physical activity
- How I Eat - focusing on sugar content of food and drinks, hydration, fruit and vegetables
- How I Sleep - focusing on sleep, sleep hygiene and screen time
- How I Feel - focusing on emotional wellbeing and resilience
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health offers the following 3 downloadable guides on screen time:
- What do children and young people think about screen time? - poster
- The health impacts of screen time - a fact sheet for parents
- The health impacts of screen time - a fact guide for clinicians and parents
'All Our Health' free, bite-sized e-learning sessions (Public Health England) - to improve the knowledge, confidence and skills of health and care professionals in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing.
The sessions cover some of the biggest issues in public health including;
- Childhood obesity
- Alcohol misuse
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
They contain signposting to trusted sources of helpful evidence, guidance and support to help professionals embed prevention in their everyday practice.
How Can We Help?
Just One Number Call to speak to a health professional by phoning 0300 300 0123. They will be able to provide initial advice and support and guide next steps with us or signpost you to other more relevant agencies and professionals. It is available 08.00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday and 09.00 to 13.00 on Saturdays.
Referrals for support are made by contacting Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Please make sure you have the consent of the parent and / or young person before you make a referral to us. You do not need to fill out any paperwork prior to this call.
Referrals are made via the telephone to enable us to have an informative conversation with you at the point of referral so we can ensure we have all the required information for early triage and assessment of the child, young person or family. This will ensure the referral gets managed by the appropriate team in a more timely way or we can signpost you to a more appropriate service.
ChatHealth Children and Young people can access us through our text messaging service on 07480635060. They will be able to discuss any health concerns with one of our Practitioners and also be able to request an appointment if they would prefer to meet with us.
Parent Line Parents can access our services by texting our number 07520631590 . This allows them to access the advice and support from a clinician about any health issues affecting their children aged 0-19.
Just One Norfolk Health Passport app Young people age 16-19 can download this app on Apple or Android phones. It provides young people age 16-19 with general health information and advice to increase health literacy. It signposts to services and promotes self care. It aims to increase resilience and wellbeing and to find out how to access health services.
Health Unlocked Parents can be signposted to this. It is a carefully monitored online community forum which allows local parents and carers to talk with each other regarding issues affecting their children. This can be accessed through our Just One Norfolk website.
Solihull Parenting Online For our Norfolk parents there is the opportunity to access this free of charge through Just One Norfolk. It supports parents in understanding their children from 0-19 via 4 modules. Staff working with children and families will also benefit from this – or they can book to do the two day Solihull Training provided by our service by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. While COVID-19 restrictions are in place please contact Karin Bibby to register your interest in virtual training as this becomes available.