THE NUMBER of children walking or cycling to and from school has risen considerably since 2004, according to a major survey which shows many pupils are not getting enough exercise.
According to the research, 31 per cent of primary school students and 40 per cent of post-primary students now walk or cycle to school, up by 5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
A total of 5,397 pupils from 53 primary and 70 post-primary schools took part in the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity study, funded by the Irish Sports Council and undertaken by Dublin City University, University of Limerick and University College Cork.
It shows that while the overall number of children participating in sports is high, most are not getting the minimum recommended amount of physical education (PE) at school. Only 35 per cent of primary pupils and 10 per cent of post-primary pupils receive the recommended minutes per week, according to the study.
On average, primary pupils receive 46 minutes of PE weekly at school compared to the recommended 60 minutes. Post-primary pupils receive 77 minutes, as against two hours recommended.
Since 2004, the time scheduled for PE has increased by an average of five minutes per week in post-primary schools, and most students receive double class periods.
Overall, the research found high levels of participation in physical activity, with 74 per cent of primary and 73 per cent of post-primary pupils participating in sport at least two days per week.