Thursday, 28 July 2011

Children and Physical Activity

The Government has released new advice (June 2011) for increasing young children’s physical activity levels.

Babies and non-walking children

Encourage physical activity from birth, ensuring babies are not restricted by clothing or with straps.

Use resources and activities such as...

• Going swimming;
• Play arches to kick and hit;
• Play mats;
• Tummy time every day;
• Copying actions such as clapping hands;
• Space to roll and learn to crawl;
• Opportunities to pull up on furniture;
• Toys just out of reach to stretch out towards... etc.

When not asleep, eating or for short periods in the buggy or car seat babies should be unrestrained and encouraged to move around.

Young children (EYFS age)

Once children are capable of walking they should be encouraged to walk and move around for a minimum of 3 hours a day, spread out through the day. Time spent sitting (watching television, in a buggy or car seat etc) should be minimised.

Resources and activities should encourage active movement (not just gentle walking) and can be both adult planned and child initiated such as...

• Swimming with family or taking lessons;
• Dancing to music and joining in movement activities with songs and rhymes;
• Learning to skip, jump, gallop, hop etc in a large open space;
• Balls and bean bags for kicking, throwing and catching;
• Using hopscotch mats;
• Independently washing themselves, drying after a bath, getting dressed etc;
• Visiting the park to climb, swing, chase and run around;
• Biking or taking a scooter around the local area to post a letter or visit the shop;
• Active playing in the garden, running, climbing, jumping building dens... etc.

The most important thing for this age group is that they are moving around... as long as their environments are safe, healthy, fun, challenging, stimulating etc then they need to be have the freedom to be active.

Young children should move around more and time spent watching television, sitting in a buggy or car seat and using a computer should be limited.

Children from age 5

All children should have the opportunity to move around from 50 minutes to several hours a day.

Activity should be vigorous and physical to strengthen muscles and support strong bone development. This does not include normal walking around the house or school runs which is classed as light activity – it means something more active.

Resources and activities include all of the above plus...

• Adult led games to promote movement;
• Ball control activities;
• Running around the garden or park;
• Dance or gymnastics;
• Weekend walking activities;
• Tennis, badminton and similar games;
• Using large apparatus at school or clubs... etc.

Time spent sitting should be minimised.

Physically disabled children

I cannot find information in the report relating to activity levels and physical disability. However from experience I know that physically disabled children are more likely to gain weight than their non disabled peers so I would say best advice is to work with the child’s parents to find ways of exercising the child’s gross and fine motor muscles to promote good health.

I have a number of e-books which promote healthy living including...

E-book 6 - Outside Play £4.99

E-book 21 - Healthy Eating £3.99

E-book 31 - Outside all year round £3.99

All my e-books are available on my website -

More information about the Government report is available from -