Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of children and young people. However statistics tell us that only 32% of boys and 24% of girls in the UK aged 2-15 years meet the Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines for this age group.
The guidelines are relevant to all children and young people irrespective of gender, race or socioeconomic status, but should be interpreted with consideration for individual physical and mental capabilities.
Birth to Five
Physical activity guidelines for the under-fives:
- Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
- Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
- All under-fives should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).
These guidelines and the infographic below are designed to help early years professionals and practitioners understand the type and amount of physical activity under-fives should do to benefit their health.
Five to Eighteen
Physical activity guidelines for children and young people:
All children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
Vigorous intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least three days a week.
All children and young people should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.
These guidelines and the infographic below are designed to help schools and professionals working with children and young people understand the type and amount of physical activity those in this age group should achieve.
Useful Sources of Information:
- Change4Life - Ideas and help on how to make small changes that add up to a healthier, happier future for children and their families
NHS Choices – Information on physical activity for children under 5
Physical activity guidelines - Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines for infants who are not yet walking
Physical activity guidelines - Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines for children who are capable of walking
Physical Activity and Play for Toddlers - Practical ideas to help achieve under 5’s achieve the recommended daily amount of physical activity
What Works in Schools and Colleges to Increase Physical Activity? - A briefing for head teachers, college principals, staff working in education settings, directors of public health and wider partners