Physical activity: how much do kids need?

Active, happy and healthy children

It’s true in many cases – healthy kids are active ones. But, did you know, by encouraging your child to be active, you are also helping them build healthy habits into the future.

Physical activity and children

Not only is it fun, being active is essential for our children’s growth and development. Keep reading for guides* on how much is enough and some ideas to get them active.

Birth to 5 years

While they may be too young to start forming habits, physical activity is essential for your child’s development in these early stages.

Birth to 1 year

30 minutes a day of supervised floor play or tummy time

1 to 2 years

180 minutes a day of running, jumping, skipping and other energetic play

3 to 5 years

180 minutes a day combining aerobic activity with actions like kicking and throwing

5 – 17 years

Spanning the primary school and teenage years, Australian guidelines* recommend increase activity levels for healthy growing children.

How much? Activities Tips

60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day plus a variety of light activity

Focus on aerobic activity; running, swimming, walking or skipping that lifts their heart rate

They should only be able to manage short sentences due to the shortness of breath

18 – 64 years

Set a good physical activity example of your children

Time to practice what we preach as parents. These guidelines* are for Australians, regardless of cultural background, gender or ability.

How much? Activities Tips

2.5 to 5 hours of moderate physical activity or 1 to 2 ½ hours of vigorous physical activity each week

Whether gym sessions, jogging, organised sport or swimming – the goal is an increased heart rate.

Anything is better than nothing. Start small and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

Benefits of physical activity

Benefits of physical activity include:

  • strong bones, joints and muscles
  • healthy heart and lungs
  • improved coordination, strength, muscle control and flexibility
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • less risk of disease later in life.

Active children are also more likely to:

  • have higher levels of confidence and belonging
  • sleep better at night
  • maintain concentration more
  • make friends more easily.

Get your school moving

Life Education modules All Systems Go, My Body Matters, Ready Steady Go! have been designed to educate children about the connection of physical activity and health.

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