What level of activity should I be doing?

Children and Young People

The Department of Health recommends the following:

Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.

Types of activities

  • Active play (activities that involve movements) – Climbing frame or riding a bike, running and chasing games, water-based activities
  • Development of locomotor, stability and object control skills – Running, jumping, hopping or skipping, balancing, riding or climbing, kicking, catching, throwing, striking or rolling, dance, gymnastics or water-based activities
  • Everyday activities – walking to shops, a friend’s house, park or nursery

All children and young people aged 5 – 18 years should engage in moderate to high intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.

Types of activities

  • Unstructured (children) – indoor or outdoor play, active travel
  • Unstructured (young people) – social dancing, active travel, household chores, temporary work
  • Structured (children and young people) – organised small sided games with equipment that maximises success, educational instruction, sport and dance
  • Muscle strengthening and bone health (children) – activities that require children to lift their weight or work against a resistance, jumping or climbing combined with large apparatus or toys
  • Muscle strengthening and bone health (young people) – resistance type exercise, during high intensity sport, dance or water-based activities, weight resistance training in gyms

Adults and Older people

Adults (19 – 64 year olds) and older people (65+ years) should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in periods of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.

Types of activities

  • Moderate intensity – brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, active travel, work related activity such as a delivery round
  • Vigorous intensity – running, playing sport, taking part in aerobic exercise classes, cardiovascular gym equipment
  • Muscle strengthening – weight training, working with resistance bands, carrying heavy loads, heavy gardening
  • Older people should make sure to break up time spent sitting with regular periods of standing or walking

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all in one go! As long as you’re getting your heart rate up for 10 minutes or more, it will count towards your 150 active minutes a week. Just 20 or 30 minutes a day will keep you on target.

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