Staying Fit: Recommended Daily Physical Activity For Kids

Encouraging participation in regular physical activity is an essential factor in promoting an overall healthy lifestyle for your children. Routine physical activity increases lean body mass, muscle, and bone strength, and promotes physical, mental, and psychological health. It can also increase a child’s overall self-esteem, their ability to respond to stress, and maximize their capacity for learning. This is a habit that should be established early on. In fact, parents can begin establishing daily physical activities with their children before they are even a year old. It is important for parents to set the right standard for the amount of physical activity their child should be getting daily. Doing this forms a healthy lifestyle habit they will carry with them well into adulthood. So how much physical activity is needed? And what types of physical activities are recommended for children? Read on to see how physical activity recommendations change as your child ages.

Physical Activity Recommendations For Infancy (Birth – Under 1 year old)


Babies love to explore the environment around them. They also like to take part in activities that explore different types of movement. When your baby is very young, you will have to help them move around.  But as they continue to grow, they will roll over, hold their head up, sit-up, crawl, and walk. All of these things are considered physical activity for this age group. Infants should be placed in a setting that encourages and stimulates movement and active play for short periods of time. This should be done several times throughout the day. Infants should also have supervised “tummy time” incorporated into their daily play-time. Tummy time should last for as long as the infant shows enjoyment. Some children do not immediately enjoy tummy time. When this happens, you may have to start out with very brief periods and build-up to longer periods over time

Physical Activity Recommendations For Early Childhood (1 – 5 years old)


In the early childhood years, children should engage in a minimum of 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity each day. They should have at least 30 minutes (ages 1 – 3) or 60 minutes (ages 3 – 5) of structured physical activity each day. Unstructured physical activity is activity in which the child engages in freely. This activity should not be prompted by an adult. Structured physical activity is planned and intentionally directed by an adult. Children in this age group should not be sedentary for any period of time greater than 60 minutes at a time, unless they are sleeping. Toddlers (ages 1 – 3) should be given opportunities to develop movement skills. These movement skills will act as building blocks for motor skill development and bone development. Young children (ages 3 – 5) should be encouraged to develop competence in fundamental motor skills. These skills will act as the building blocks for future advanced motor skills and physical activity.

Physical Activity Recommendations For Middle Childhood, Adolescence, & Young Adults (6 – 21 years old)


Children, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 6 and 21 should engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Most of this time should be comprised of either moderate- or vigorous- intensity aerobic physical activity. Children should engage in vigorous physical activity at least 3 days per week. They should also engage in muscle- and bone- strengthening physical activity at least 3 days per week. During this time, it is important for parents to encourage physical activity that is age appropriate, enjoyable, and offer variety. For example, children under the age of 7 should engage in activities that focus on fundamental motor skills such as running, jumping, skipping, throwing, kicking, and catching. Children between the ages of 7 and 9 years old should engage in activities that focus on fundamental transitional motor skill development such as throwing for distance or accuracy. Children 10 years or older should engage in activities that focus on transitional complex motor skills being developed such as playing soccer, basketball, and baseball.

Schedule Your Child’s Annual Well-Child Visit Today  


Besides getting plenty of physical activity, routine annual wellness visits are important to maintaining your child’s overall health and well-being. Annual wellness visits also ensure they are not taking part in physical activity that may be a risk to them. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child!