Physical activity for young people

Physical activity for young people aged 5-18

 

To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5-18 need to do:

 

At least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day, which should be a mix of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as fast walking, and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running.

On three days a week, these activities should involvemuscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups,
and bone-strengthening activities, such as running.

Many vigorous-intensity aerobic activities can
help you meet your weekly muscle- and bone-
strengthening requirements, such as running,
skipping, gymnastics, martial arts and football.

 

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most young people include:

 

Don't sit for too long

Children and young people should minimise the amount of time they spend sitting watching TV, playing computer games, and traveling by car when they could walk or cycle instead.

  • walking to school
  • playing in the playground
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • walking the dog
  • riding a bike on level ground or ground with few hills

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song.

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What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most young people include:

  • playing chase
  • energetic dancing
  • aerobics
  • running
  • gymnastics
  • playing football
  • martial arts, such as karate
  • riding a bike fast or on hilly ground

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

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What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?

Healthy weight

  • Children and young people who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines, even if they don’t lose weight.
  • To reach a healthy weight, they may need to do more than the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day and also make changes to their diet.

For young people, muscle-strengthening activities are those that require them to lift their own body weight or to work against a resistance, such as climbing a rope.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities suitable for children include:

  • games such as tug of war
  • swinging on playground equipment bars
  • gymnastics
  • rope or tree climbing
  • sit-ups
  • sports such as gymnastics, football, basketball and tennis

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities suitable for young people include:

  • sit-ups
  • push-ups
  • gymnastics
  • resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines or hand-held weights
  • rock climbing
  • sports such as football, basketball and tennis

Children and young people should take part in activities that are appropriate for their age and stage of development.

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