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Physical activity guidelines for children and young people - Exercise

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 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. All activities should make you breathe faster and feel warmer

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.

Examples of moderate intensity activities:

  • walking to school
  • playground activities
  • riding a scooter
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • walking the dog
  • cycling on level ground or ground with few hills

What activities strengthen muscles and bones?

Examples for children include:

  • walking
  • running
  • games such as tug of war
  • skipping with a rope
  • swinging on playground equipment bars
  • gymnastics
  • climbing
  • sit-ups, press-ups and other similar exercises
  • basketball
  • dance
  • football
  • rugby
  • tennis

Examples for young people include:

  • gymnastics
  • rock climbing
  • football
  • basketball
  • tennis
  • dance
  • resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines or handheld weights
  • aerobics
  • running
  • netball
  • hockey
  • badminton
  • skipping with a rope
  • martial arts
  • sit-ups, press-ups and other similar exercises

Physical activity recommendation for other age groups:

Page last reviewed: 8 October 2019
Next review due: 8 October 2019