Less than one in five of children and young people (17.5 per cent) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.
Perhaps most worryingly, a third of children (32.9 per cent) lead inactive, sedentary lives, doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
The figures comes from Sport England's Active Lives Children and Young People Survey
, published today (6 December).
The survey is the largest ever of its kind and gives a comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity, both in and out of school.
The report is based on responses from more than 130,000 children in England, aged between five and 16, during the academic year from September 2017 to July 2018.
Other findings include that nearly a fourth of children (23 per cent) leave primary school unable to swim 25 metres unaided.
Responding to the figures, Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said urgent action was needed to tackle childhood inactivity.
“I am calling for a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children and for the whole system to be united in delivering change," Hollingsworth said. "Our children deserve better and Sport England is determined to play its part.
“Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity.
“This research is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a big wake-up call for all of us.
“We all care about the health and wellbeing of our children. These results tell us that what is currently being done to support them is not enough and change is required.
“We know that lots of factors affect behaviour and there is no single answer to the problem but listening to young people and what they want is the best starting point.
“In March we will publish the first results of our research on the attitudes of children to sport and activity, showing what they do and don’t like about being active.”
To download the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey in full, click here.