children playing

1st March 2022 • My Family Our Needs

In February, we heard the news that disabled children and young people will be supported to be more physically active following the publication of new guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). 

The guidelines are underpinned by research from Durham University, University of Bristol and Disabilities Rights UK. The infographic they are presented in, is the first of its kind to be co-produced with disabled children, young people and their families. 

A fresh approach  

The new guidelines recommend disabled children and young people: 

  • Undertake 120 to 180 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity – this can be achieved in different ways (for example, 20 minutes per day or 40 minutes 3 times per week) through activities such as walking or cycling. 
  • Complete challenging, but manageable, strength and balance activities 3 times per week which are particularly beneficial for muscle strength and motor skills – for example, indoor wall climbing, yoga, and modified sports such as basketball or football. 
  • When first starting to exercise, build up slowly to avoid injury. 
  • Break down their exercise into bite-size chunks of physical activity throughout the day to make it more manageable. 

The power of movement 

Specific benefits that disabled children and young people can gain from physical activity include improved confidence and concentration, meeting new people and stronger muscles and improved motor strength. 

This guidance will support wider work by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) to get more children and young people physically active and tackle health inequalities. 

Work already underway includes OHID working with stakeholders to update the National Physical Activity Framework and enable national and local action to support everyone to be more active. 

What people said 

Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK, said, ‘At Disability Rights UK we are really pleased to have worked with Durham University on the development of the UK CMOs’ physical activity guidelines for disabled children and young people. 

‘This is an essential resource to demonstrate the health benefits disabled children and young people can achieve through regular physical activity. 

‘Disabled children and young people, their parents and carers, health and social care professionals, and key disability and sports organisations have all been involved in co-producing the infographic. The final version results from their involvement and input into this project.’ 

Since 2013, the Department for Education has funded a series of grant programmes to increase and improve access to physical education, school sport and physical activity for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 

This includes ‘Inclusion 2024’, which is helping pupils with SEND engage more in school sport, backed by £300,000 of Government funding. 

The physical activity in disabled children and disabled young people evidence review and infographic is published on GOV.UK.