Under-5s should exercise for three hours per day 3

Babies, toddlers and preschool-aged children should be active for at least three hours every day, according to the latest advice from UK government health experts.

The amount of time young children are kept strapped in buggies or car seats should be kept to a minimum, while developing an active lifestyle should be a priority.

Not only is the amount of exercise a child a significant factor in avoiding obesity, but it’s also linked to healthy brain development.

An active lifestyle should be encouraged from birth, including playing on activity mats or going swimming. Once a child can walk they should be moving around for at least three hours every day.

Some parents may find it hard to believe that their child could fail to be active for just three hours every day, yet it’s a sad fact that some young children are not encouraged to exercise. Recent figures from the Department of Health suggest that just one in three children aged between two and 15 get the recommended amount of daily exercise.

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, said that there was considerable evidence that allowing children to crawl, play or roll around on the floor was essential.

“Play that allows under-fives to move about is critical and three hours a day is essential,” she said.

“I think there are parents who are not aware how important it is for their children to be physically active for a minimum of three hours,” she continued. “Other parents are very busy and may not see how important it is to get that prioritisation and balance right.”

3 thoughts on “Under-5s should exercise for three hours per day

  • Helen Doron

    So only 30 per cent of children in the UK are estimated to be getting the daily recommended amount of exercise. And the government is now advising that all children under five should exercise for at least three hours a day, supported by recent research which has suggested a link between lack of physical activity and poor brain development.

    It is clear that children are playing differently to even a decade ago. Computers and TVs are rapidly replacing bikes and trees but so are exams and tests and increasing amounts of homework, all of which keep children away from ‘the great outdoors’. I believe that it is vital to introduce exercise more in to the school curriculum and learning in general. Worldwide research in child development shows that children learn best through active involvement, and for example, that language acquisition is reinforced through movement.

    We have found that teaching language through movement – drawn from a range of disciplines, including yoga, Pilates, martial arts and dance – helps young children keep healthy and increase their capacity to absorb new languages. The key is to design lessons which combine physical fitness with mental agility.

    If the UK is going to really tackle this future time-bomb of childhood obesity, children need to be embracing physical exercise in every aspect of life and combining education and exercise is going to be key.

    Helen Doron,
    The Helen Doron Education Group

  • Kerri @ Baby Monitors Online

    I completely agree with Helen’s comment. Combining education and exercise is a fantastic idea which will encourage children to be more active as well as learn at a faster rate.

    I feel very strongly about exercise, and as Helen said, most children seem to be sitting on computer games all day or watching TV. Getting your child to be more active could be as simple as the whole family taking a walk before dinner time (which would benefit the full family), or letting your child choose an exercise class such as ballet, karate, or dance class and have them attend each class.

  • Steve Litt

    Play and exercise are so important to children and adults. We all need play in our lives. The more active it is and the more time spent outdoors the better. Great choice of topics. Thanks.

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