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Physical activity for children

Staying fit and healthy is important for your child’s normal growth and development.

Being active can help your child to:

  • have a healthy body
  • develop self-confidence
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • improve learning and attention

Children under 5 should have at least 3 hours of physical activity a day. By 5 years of age, this should include at least 1 hour of energetic play a day. This is where they sweat and their breathing is faster than normal.

The activity does not need to be done all at once. It can be built up over the day. Reducing the amount of time your child is sitting or not moving is also important.

All activity counts. This includes walking, running, dancing, hopping, skipping or cycling.

Find more information about active living

Health benefits of physical activity for children

What you can do

You can:

  • explore the outdoors
  • make time for play with other children
  • play music and learn songs together
  • walk or cycle to where you're going - even doing part of the journey on foot or by bike will be good for your child
  • try to have areas in your home with no TVs, computers or devices, or avoid these devices for certain times during the day
  • create safe places to play

How to child-proof your home

Outdoor play

When playing outdoors, children have more freedom to move, shout and connect with the world.

Playing outdoors offers something new every day. It has huge benefits for your child.

It can help your child to:

  • learn and develop mentally
  • improve their physical development
  • encourage their curiosity
  • learn how to get on with others

If you do not have a garden or it’s not safe to go outside near your home, try to make time to visit local parks or playgrounds.

Tips for healthy eating and active living

Page last reviewed: 15 September 2022
Next review due: 15 September 2025