Physical activity and health of children

The Challenge

With more people sitting for the majority of the day, it is important to encourage people of all ages to not only be more physically active, but also understand the reason as to why this is important. Ensuring physical activity is a daily habit is recognised as a big challenge, especially for children who do not have full control of their behaviours. However, embedding physical activity to the daily lives of children, could lead to a generational shift on daily movement.

It is vitally important to enhance the health and wellbeing through the promotion of physical activity.

The method

Dr Kelly Mackintosh, Dr Melitta McNarry and a team of researchers gave local children, activity monitors to wear for a week. The children continued their normal daily activities, which were now being recorded. The data was then uploaded, and a 3D model was printed and given to each child. The tangible nature of this data gave important insights to the children on their daily movements.  For the researchers, this changed their approach from ensuring novel, highly sensitive data capture, to ensuring a simply display of information to the population to aid with understanding. Until people understand what they need to do, no intervention is likely to be effective. 

The impact

  • The Welsh Institute of Physical Activity, Health and Sport (WIPAHS), led by Drs Mackintosh and McNarry in partnership with Sport Wales, provides a sound platform to translate physical activity research to practice. WIPAHS incorporates all 8 higher education institutes across Wales, and wider research is international.
  • The research has led to further recognition of the physical activity research and expertise at Swansea University. Indeed, Dr Mackintosh was on the Chief Medical Officer’s expert working group for updating the children and young peoples’ government physical activity guidelines in 2019
  • WIPAHS and Swansea University research has led to Dr Mackintosh being invited to represent Wales for a rapid response to promotional materials during Covid
  • Dr Mackintosh is also part of the expert group for surveillance of physical activity across the UK for the CMOs. WIPAHS will be integral to national physical activity surveillance across Wales.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes