AS national guidelines suggest, children aged between five and 18 should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

But, according to Sport England, one third of children aren’t getting the recommended dose, a figure mirrored throughout the North-East.

To combat the lack of exercise in some young people, a national initiative, Daily Mile UK, was created encouraging schools to implement free daily walks to encourage their pupils to get a good dose of exercise every day.

It has enjoyed a great deal of success since it was started, with in excess of 3,500 schools and nurseries signed up. It has even spread to other European countries with Belgium and the Netherlands experiencing a high demand.

Of the 150 centres signed up in the North-East, 14 are based in the Tyne Valley. The schools which have signed up are Herdley Bank Centre, Gilsland Primary, Greenhead Primary, Otterburn First, Henshaw Primary, Newbrough Primary, Hexham First, Corbridge Middle, Belsay Daycare, Stamfordham Primary, Wylam First, Prudhoe Castle First, Adderlane Academy and St Matthew’s Primary, Prudhoe.

Along with Hexham and Corbridge, St Matthew’s was one of the first three in the district to sign up and the children have been enjoying the benefits of daily exercise since September.

Pupils are encouraged to either run or walk for 15 minutes each day to complement other physical activity, with children in Reception and Key Stage 1 completing their sessions first thing in the morning and Key Stage 2 children fitting it in during the school day.

The scheme is led by Early Years leader Patricia Hatherley said: “Participating in the Daily Mile has allowed our children a more creative approach to incorporate regular physical activity into daily routines.

“We encourage participation from every child. This has resulted in a positive impact on the lives, health and wellbeing of young people in our school.

“Our Daily Mile is not part of our sport or PE programme, but rather health and wellbeing through physical activity. As well as the mile all, children participate in an addition two hours of physical activity per week, be it swimming, hockey, netball or golf. We have noticed an improvement in the concentration levels and fitness levels of our children. We are hoping this will be maintained or improved over the coming months and years.”

In addition to the physical health benefits the daily exercise brings, Corbridge Middle School is focusing on the boost to children’s mental health.

Assistant headteacher Lindsay Hamilton introduced the scheme to the school and the daily sessions are timetabled in to the school timetable to ensure all pupils take part.

Since it was introduced at the beginning of the academic year, Mrs Hamilton claimed it had helped the wellbeing of the children.

She said: “I did some research about raising levels of activity for children and what has worked across the UK. This was easy to set up and very cost effective, and has been very successful elsewhere. Improving children’s wellbeing is at the forefront of everything we do and try to do, and it’s such an important issue in this day and age.

“The children are loving it as it helps build friendships, allows the children to speak more with the teachers when walking around and gives them more access to fresh air.”