Benefits of physical activity

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Benefits of regular physical activity

Regular physical activity is good for everyone – but it’s particularly important for your kids. The first five years of their life are the most important years for their growth and development. It’s during this time that they’ll develop the habits that they’ll take with them into adulthood.

It’s our responsibility as parents, carers and educators to provide kids around us with opportunities and experiences that positively influence their choices around active play.

active child

Being physically active is one of the key building blocks for a healthy life.

Benefits of regular physical activity

  • Healthy growth and development including being a healthy weight and reducing the risk of disease like diabetes or cancer later in life
  • Building strong hearts, muscles and bones
  • Learning fundamental movement skills
  • Improved movement, balance, coordination and reaction time
  • Increased mental wellbeing
  • Improved social skills, self-esteem and confidence

How physically active do kids need to be?

Take a look at these Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (birth to 5 years) and Children and Young People (5-17 years) - are your kids active enough?

Babies under 1 year of age
  • Physical activity - should be active several times a day in a variety of ways. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes of tummy time, spread throughout the day.
  • Sedentary behaviour – should not be restrained (eg strollers, car seats, high chairs) for more than one hour at a time. Screen time is not recommended.
  • Sleep – 14-17 hours (for those aged 0-3 months), and 12-16 hours (for those aged 4-11 months) of good quality sleep, including naps.
Toddlers (1 – 2 years)
  • Physical activity – at least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities, spread throughout the day.
  • Sedentary behaviour – not being restrained (eg strollers, car seats, high chairs) for more than one hour at a time. For those younger than 2, screen time is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, screen time should be no more that 1 hour.
  • Sleep – 11 – 14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps.
Preschoolers (3- 5 years)
  • Physical activity - accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities; include several hours of a variety of light physical activities each day; activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
  • Sedentary behaviour - limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than two hours a day; break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
  • Sleep - 10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with consistent sleep and wakeup times.
Children/young people (5-17 years)
  • Physical activity - accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities; include several hours of a variety of light physical activities each day; activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
  • Sedentary behaviour - limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than two hours a day; break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
  • Sleep - an uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years.
Page last updated on: 17 Sep 2019