The four UK Chief Medical Officers have published guidelines for physical activity for children and young people.
Under 5s (not walking)
Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments. All under 5s should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).
Under 5s (walking)
Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 3 hours, spread throughout the day. All under 5s should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).
Children and young people aged 5-18 years
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 undertaken at least three days a week. All children and young people should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.
Examples of moderate intensity activities include cycling and playground activities. Vigorous intensity activities include fast running and swimming or football.
There are many benefits for children and young people engaging in physical activity:
Improves health and fitness
Strengthens muscles and bones
Maintains healthy weight
Makes you feel good
Builds confidence and social skills
Improves concentration and learning
Active children are healthy, happy, school ready and sleep better and every movement counts. The benefits of physical activity for the under 5s include:
Maintains health and weight
Contributes to brain development and learning
Develops muscles and bones
Encourages movement and co-ordination
Builds relationships and social skills
Play, including playing outdoors, is a great way to meet these guidelines! Move more, sit less and play together!
Each individual’s abilities should be considered when interpreting the guidelines.