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The Importance of Keeping Children Physically Active

Daily physical activity is vital for all Australian children and young people. The Australian physical activity guidelines provide clear recommendations for the minimum amount of physical activity required by children and young people to experience health benefits. Children and young people who accumulate the minimum amount of physical activity every day are at a lower risk of conditions including overweight or obesity, Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other comorbidities, are more likely to see improvements in their aerobic fitness and bone health and experience positive mental health benefits.

Despite these obvious health benefits, only 19% of Australian children and young people, aged 5-17 years meet the physical activity recommendations:

Age Group

Infants – Birth to 1 year

Physical activity recommendations

Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, especially supervised floor-based play

Sedentary behaviour & screen time recommendations

Children (0-5 years) should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than 1 hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping.

Age Group

Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers – 3 to 5 years

Physical activity recommendations

Should accumulate at least 3 hours of physical activity (light, moderate or vigorous) every day.

Sedentary behaviour & screen time recommendations

Toddlers (less than 2 years) should not take part in any screen time activities. Children (2-5 years) should be limited to less than one hour per day of screen time.

Age Group

Children & Teens – 13 to 17 years

Physical activity recommendations

Should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. A variety of aerobic activities should be undertaken, including some physical activities that are vigorous in intensity.

Physical activities that strengthen muscles and bones should be included on at least three days per week.

For additional health benefits, children and young people should engage in more physical activities (up to several hours) every day.

Sedentary behaviour & screen time recommendations

Should minimise the time spent being sedentary every day and break up long periods of sitting as much as possible.

Children (5 to 12 years) and teens (13 to 17 years) should limit their screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.

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