Physical Activity for Children and Young People

Why is physical activity important for children and young people?

Regular physical activity can include many different activities and has countless benefits to a child's health, including:

  • developing social skills
  • improving cardiovascular health
  • improving bone health
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • improving self-confidence
  • improving concentration

Physical activity guidelines for children and young people

An average of 60 mins moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity a day across the week, alongside a variety of types and intensities of activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscles and bones.

What counts as moderate activity?

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. If you can talk but not sing, you're working at moderate intensity! Examples include:

  • walking to school
  • walking the dog
  • playground activities and games like catching, running, jumping
  • PE lessons
  • sports like swimming, football, dance, tennis, athletics
  • skateboarding
  • cycling

What activities strengthen muscles and bones?

  • gymnastics
  • football
  • jumping
  • running
  • martial arts
  • resistance exercise with bands, weights or machines
  • body weight exercises like sit ups, press ups

Read more about strength and resistance activity specifically here.


  • Aim for an average of at least 60 mins moderate - vigorous intensity physical activity a day across the week
  • Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity

Take a look at advice and ideas to get moving a little more: