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To help achieve or maintain a healthy weight, physical and mental development and stamina, children need movement from a range of different forms of activity every day. Our bodies are designed to move about not sit for long periods of time and physical activity can be fun on your own, as a family or with a group of friends.

These are the recommended amounts of activity for all children and young people (age 5-18):

  1. All children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
  2. Vigorous intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least three days a week.
  3. All children and young people should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

Individual physical and mental capabilities should be considered when interpreting these guidelines.

Moderate-intensity activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat so if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song. Ideas for moderate – vigorous intensity activities might be:

  • walking to school or college or walking the dog
  • riding a bike on level ground or ground with few hills
  • dancing
  • skateboarding or using a scooter
  • rollerblading
  • running around the yard at break time

Here are examples of activities that require vigorous effort where most people are breathing hard and fast, heart rate has gone up quite a bit and you not be to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath:

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

Children and young people who are overweight are often reluctant to join in activities or sports however they 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 daily diet.

We are more likely to want to do activities if we find them fun, interesting, have friends and family to join and support us. Try to build movement and activities in or out of doors into the daily routine.


If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

Fact Zone

To help strengthen muscles, young people can participate in activities such as sit-ups, push-ups, resistance exercises and sport.
Examples of moderate intensity physical activity for young people could be walking the dog, or playing sport like netball or football.
Building physical activity into a routine whilst young can help to maintain an interest in sport and exercise when older. In turn, this can help adults to maintain a healthy weight.
Vigorous intensity physical activity requires you to breathe hard and fast, your heart rate increases and you may find it difficult to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
Examples of vigorous physical activity for young people could be running, aerobics or swimming.
Engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day can help young people who are overweight to reach a healthy weight.
Moderate intensity physical activity means that your heart rate is raised, you might break a sweat but you can still hold a conversation whilst exercising.
To help maintain a healthy weight, young people need to engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Young people should spend at least 60 minutes every day engaged in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.


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