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Physical activity guidelines for children and young people

How much physical activity should children and young people aged 5 to 18 do to keep healthy?

Children and young people need to do 2 types of physical activity each week:

  • aerobic exercise
  • exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones

Children and young people aged 5 to 18 should:

  • aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity a day across the week
  • take part in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscles and bones
  • reduce the time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity. Aim to spread activity throughout the day

What counts as moderate activity?

Moderate intensity activities will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.

Children and young people should do a range of different activities across the week.

Examples include:

  • walking to school or walking the dog
  • playground activities, including jumping, running and catching
  • physical education
  • sports, like football or tennis
  • swimming
  • skipping
  • dancing
  • skateboarding or rollerblading
  • cycling

What activities strengthen muscles and bones?

Examples include:

  • gymnastics
  • football
  • jumping
  • martial arts
  • sit-ups, press-ups and other similar exercises (for young people)
  • resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines or handheld weights (for young people)

Exercising safely

Children and young people should:

  • get medical advice about exercising if they have a health condition
  • do exercise that is suitable for their age, ability and experience
  • start any new exercise slowly and increase it bit by bit
  • use protective equipment, for example for cycling and skateboarding

Young people can use weights for resistance exercise if a qualified adult trains them to use weights correctly and supervises them.

Physical activity recommendation for other age groups:

GOV.UK has infographics on physical activity for children and young people

Page last reviewed: 12 November 2021
Next review due: 12 November 2024