July 11, 2011

First physical activity guidance for under-fives

Children runningNew physical activity guidelines for the UK include specific guidance for under-fives for the first time.

Released by the UK’s chief medical officers, they state that pre-school children who are able to walk should be active for at least three hours a day, though this doesn't need to be in one go.

This means parents need to encourage babies to roll around and reach for things on the floor while older pre-school children should be encouraged to walk and run around, and avoid spending too much time sitting down.

The guidance for five to 18 year-olds now states that young people should do ‘at least 60 minutes and up to several hours’ of physical activity a day. This should include vigorous intensity activity, rather than just moderate.

Vigorous activity is also mentioned in the guidance for adults.

It’s vital that parents introduce children to fun and physically active pastimes

Our head of policy and advocacy, Maura Gillespie, said: “Being active, whatever your age, is crucial for looking after your heart. But we’re particularly pleased that the guidelines now address under-fives and recognise the benefits of more vigorous activity for older children and adults.

“Our childhood and teenage years are where we develop habits and lifestyles that generally continue throughout our adult life. So it’s vital that parents introduce children to fun and physically active pastimes to help prevent them becoming obese children, who are likely to become obese adults at risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.”