Physical Activity Guidelines

How much physical activity should children under 5 years old do every day?

Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. For this age group, activity of any intensity should be encouraged, including light activity and more energetic physical activity.

Babies should be stimulated with activities that encourage them to use their arms and legs, help them to crawl and develop balance. Babies can be taken swimming when just a few weeks old, and will generally sleep better and be happier if they play lots of active games.

Once a baby starts to toddle, they should be active for at least 3 hours every day. Minimise the amount of time they spend sitting watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car, bus or train. Toddlers love to be outdoors, so encourage them to be with nature, take them to the woods or a playground so they get lots of fresh air.

Download Fact sheet 1: Early years (under 5s) (PDF, 507K)

Download Fact sheet 2: Early years (under 5s capable of walking) (PDF, 541K)

How much physical activity should children and young people aged 5-18 do every day?

Children aged 5-18 should do at least one hour of energetic activity every day. This might include running, skipping, swimming or cycling. On at least three days a week they should do some exercise that helps develop their muscles and bones, such as hopscotch, gymnastics, climbing or lifting. Children that are active through their childhood are far more likely to be healthy adults, with less risk of diseases and being overweight.

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

Download Fact sheet 3: Children and young people (5-18 years) (PDF, 555K)

How much physical activity should adults aged 19-64 do every day?

Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, stomach, chest,  shoulders and arms).  Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.

An easy way to get your 150 minutes would be to do 30 minutes on five days of the week.

Adults who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines, even if they don’t lose weight. To lose weight, you are likely to need to do more than 150 minutes a week and make changes to your diet. Start by gradually building up towards 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.

Even for adults with health conditions, physical activity is still beneficial for most people. Ask your doctor for advice before you get started if you are planning on becoming active for the first time and you have a health condition.

Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.

Download Fact sheet 4: Adults (19-64 years) (PDF, 568K)

How much physical activity should adults aged 65 and over do every day?

Older adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.

Even for adults with health conditions, physical activity is still beneficial for most people. Ask your doctor for advice before you get started if you are planning on becoming active for the first time and you have a health condition.

Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.

Download Fact sheet 5: Older adults (65+ years) (PDF, 462K)