FEWER children in Dudley hit the recommended amount of exercise last year than before the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Just under half of children in England met the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of an hour or more of exercise a day, which Sport England said demonstrates the "challenge facing our country".

Figures from the organisation’s annual Active Lives survey found 47 per cent of children and young people in Dudley were classed as 'active' – meeting the recommended amount of activity – in the 2022-23 academic year.

It was down from 52 per cent the previous academic year, and below pre-pandemic levels in 2017-18 when 54 per cent of children were active.

Of the area's 675 respondents last year, 26 per cent were classed as 'fairly active' – meaning they did between 30 minutes to an hour of activity per day – while 27 per cent did less than half an hour of exercise a day.

Across England, 47 per cent of young people were active for an average of 60 minutes a day in the recent academic year. It is roughly the same proportion as the year before, but up from 43 per cent in 2017-18 when the survey began.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, said while the figures reveal some positives, they indicate more work must be done to get children and young people active.

He added: "The fact that fewer than half are meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines demonstrates the scale of challenge facing our country.

"Too many children and young people are missing out on the benefits of living an active life – to their physical health but also mental well-being and positive social connection with friends and their community."

The figures also show 1.5 million – or 33 per cent of – children and young people volunteered to support sport and physical activity nationally, though this was down from 38 per cent in 2017-18.

In Dudley, 34 per cent of children volunteered at least twice last year.

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: "This underlines the need for more action – and greater concerted focus across government departments, as well as across the sport and physical activity sector.

"We welcome the launch of the new Physical Activity Taskforce, which meets next week, as a chance for this action to be debated."