It is important to increase levels of physical activity for children to the recommended daily amount. As you may be aware many children are overweight by the time they get to school at the age of five. Research shows that if children carry too much fat in their bodies, they are at a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes in later life. The recommended daily physical activity for children under five is 3 hours per day. But it doesn’t have to be sport – running around and having fun outside count too.
Benefits: Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Babies should be encouraged to be active from birth. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time. Once babies can move around, encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment.
Toddlers who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). This should be spread throughout the day, indoors or outside. The 180 minutes can include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to be physically active.
Top 5 tips:
- Children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except when they're asleep.
- Don't sit for too long or leave children sedentary for long periods with electronic devices such as tablets.
- Minimise the time children spend sitting watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car or buggy.
- Activity of any intensity should be encouraged, including light activity and more energetic physical activity.
- Walk to your destination rather than take bus, train or car if you can. Encourage your child to walk at all times.
- Factsheet - Physical activity guidelines for children under 5 years who are not yet walking
- Factsheet - Physical activity guidelines for under 5s capable of walking
- Factsheet - Physical activity guidelines for children and young people ages 5-18 years
- Infography on physical Activity for children and young people (5-18 years)
Other helpful links:
- Change4Life and Disney have teamed up to take your kids on a 10 Minute Shake Up adventure inspired by Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory
- The British Heart Foundation has a pack for Early Years practitioners and there are lots of useful tips that parents can take on board too- Find out more information at the British Heart Foundation National Centre website
- Find out what is happening in your local area - Get Active London and BBC Sport Get Inspired
- Local parks and green spaces