Regular physical activity and limiting sedentary time is important for the health and development of children of all ages. Encouraging kids to be active each day helps to build good habits that will stay with them throughout life.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend the following for children and young people of different ages and stages:
Toddlers (1-2 years) should spend at least three hours per day being active, spread throughout the day, but more is better. This includes active play such as running and jumping. Toddlers shouldn’t be restrained (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair) for more than one hour at a time or sit for extended periods. Screen time isn’t recommended for those under 2 years of age and should be limited to one hour in those aged 2 years.
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years) should spend at least three hours per day being active, spread throughout the day, but more is better. This includes active play such as running, jumping, kicking and throwing. Pre-schoolers shouldn’t be restrained (e.g. in a stroller or car seat) for more than one hour at a time, or sit for extended periods. Sedentary screen time should be limited to one hour per day, but less is better.
Children (5-12 years) and young people (13-17 years) should include at least one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per day. More activity (up to several hours per day) will provide additional health benefits. Muscle and bone strengthening activities are recommended at least three days per week. Use of electronic media (e.g. television, computer/tablet, electronic games) for entertainment should be limited to no more than two hours per day, but lower levels are associated with reduced health risks. Long periods of sitting should be broken up regularly with short bursts of activity.
- Moderate intensity activities are those which take some effort but you are still able to talk while doing them. Examples include brisk walking, swimming, dancing, riding a bike or playing active games.
- Vigorous intensity activities are those which require more effort and make you breathe harder and faster. Examples including running, fast cycling and many organised sports.
- Muscle and bone strengthening exercises include skipping, hopping, jumping, climbing and structured activities such as dance, gymnastics and martial arts.
The best way to encourage children to be active is to make time to be active as a family. Incorporating regular activity into your days and week will not only benefit the health of the whole family but will also provide opportunities to enjoy time together.
For more information:
Visit the Healthy Kids website for tips on active living for families.
Raising Kids for tips on healthy screen time for different ages from infants through to teens.