Many children do not shower after games lessons / Getty

Roughly half of all schoolboys - and two thirds of schoolgirls - admitted to never showering after PE lessons

More than half of all secondary schoolchildren are not exercising properly because they are worried about showering, new research has suggested.

Four thousand Essex pupils took part in the study, published by the European Journal of Sports Sciences, which found that more than half of all schoolboys and two thirds of girls do not shower after games lessons.

Researchers suggested that children may be less active – affecting their health – because they are concerned about needing a shower.

The pupils from eight Essex state secondary schools, located in urban, rural, affluent and deprived areas, all attended schools with working hot showers in both genders’ changing rooms.

The study also demonstrated that girls who did not shower were less fit, the BBC reported.

Figures from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for 2013/14 showed 19.8 per cent of children aged 10 to 11 – the year before children enter secondary schooling – were obese and a further 14.4 per cent were overweight.

“We know that children aren’t getting enough physical activity because we have seen their fitness declining,” Dr Gavin Sandercock, who led the study, said.

“If the unwillingness to shower is a barrier to working up a sweat or playing sport it’s something we need to tackle to promote activity in schools.”

One in three boys claimed they never showered after a games lesson, while two out of three girls claimed to never shower.

Only ten per cent of boys surveyed said they always had a shower after PE, compared to one in 13 girls.