Babies and children need to be physically active every day as an important part of their healthy growth and development.

Activity of any intensity should be encouraged, including light activity and more energetic physical activity.

How to introduce physical activity into your daily routine

Guidelines from the NHS

Babies

Babies should be encouraged to be active throughout the day. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time.

Once babies can move around encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe environment.

For more ideas, see Keeping kids active.

Toddlers

Children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (three hours).

The 180 minutes could include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping.

Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.

Older children

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

  • at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day – this should range from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground activities, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis
  • on three days a week, these activities should involve exercises for strong muscles, such as push-ups, and exercises for strong bones, such as jumping and running.

Many vigorous activities can help you build strong muscles and bones, including anything involving running and jumping, such as gymnastics, martial arts and football.

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

There are two types of activity, light and energetic:

Light activity for children includes a range of activities, such as:

  • standing up
  • moving around
  • walking
  • less energetic play.

Energetic activities suitable for most children who can walk on their own include:

  • active play (such as hide and seek and stuck in the mud)
  • running around
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • riding a bike
  • dancing
  • swimming
  • climbing
  • skipping rope
  • Gymnastics.

Find out more

Our family centres offer a range of free fun activities to keep children aged under-five active. For more information visit www.family-support.org.uk.

There are a variety of sports and activities available for families within Hammersmith & Fulham, for more information visit this link.

Children aged under five

For more information on the recommended physical activity for children aged under-five, download these NHS factsheets.

For older children