Academic Journals & Research Data

Addressing seasonal variation in children's physical activity

Physical activity across the seasons

Our analysis from the Age 7 survey of the UK Millennium Cohort Study used data collected by accelerometer on up to five occasions within a single calendar year. It showed:

  • Consistent with previous research, children were more active in spring and summer than autumn and winter. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA – i.e. that which requires a substantial amount of effort and noticeably increases the heart rate) was lower in both autumn and winter when compared to spring.
  • Average activity levels across the group peaked in April at 65.3 min/day and dropped to their lowest levels in February at 47.8 min/day.
  • The weekend effect: children’s weekend activity was more susceptible to seasonal influence than weekday activity. Physical activity was at its lowest at weekends during winter, and highest at weekends during early summer.
  • Gender differences: whilst boys were more active than girls throughout the year, boys’ activity varied more with the seasons than girls’ activity.
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