For children and young people (5 to 17 years)

Being active is important for children and young people to grow healthy, and set good habits for life. Read about how much activity children and teenagers should do each day, limiting sitting time, and getting enough sleep.

Being active

For children and young people, being active every day has many social, emotional, intellectual and health benefits, including:

  • a chance to have fun with friends and family
  • reduced antisocial behaviour
  • stronger cooperation and teamwork skills
  • better self-esteem and confidence
  • lower anxiety and stress
  • better concentration
  • healthy growth and development
  • strong muscles and bones
  • improved fitness, including coordination and movement skills
  • lower risk of disease
  • lower risk of unhealthy weight gain.

All children and young people should get the right mix of physical activity, inactivity and sleep in each 24-hour period.

Moderate to vigorous physical activity

We recommend children and young people do at least 60 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous physical activity that makes the heart beat faster. More is better.

It doesn’t have to be a full 60 minutes at once – several shorter sessions through the day work too.

At least 3 days per week, children and young people should incorporate vigorous activities and activities that strengthen muscle and bone in the 60 minutes.

These activities don’t have to be organised or formal, and can include:

  • football
  • basketball
  • netball
  • bike riding
  • scooter riding
  • swimming
  • dancing.

Muscle-strengthening activity

As part of the 60 minutes of daily activity, we recommend children and young people include muscle and bone strengthening activities 3 days per week, like:

  • running
  • climbing
  • swinging on monkey bars
  • push-ups
  • sit-ups
  • lifting weights
  • yoga.

Light physical activity

Children and young people should also do several hours of various light physical activities each day. These can include:

  • walking to school
  • walking the dog
  • going to the park with friends
  • helping around the house
  • playing handball.

Limiting time sitting

Limiting the time spent sitting or lying down (sedentary behaviour) – especially in front of screens – helps children grow and develop good habits for life.

Long periods of sitting can lessen the benefits of being physically active. So, it’s important to break these up as often as possible.

Screen time during childhood can have long-term impacts on a child’s development. For children and young people, we recommend no more than 2 hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day. This does not include screen time needed for school work.

Ensuring good sleep

Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential to healthy growth. We recommend that each night:  

  • children aged 5 to 13 years get 9 to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep
  • young people aged 14 to 17 years get 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

To establish and maintain healthy sleep patterns, we recommend:

  • having a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
  • avoiding screen time 1 hour before sleep
  • keeping screens out of the bedroom.

Learn more

For more information about our activity recommendations for children and young people, see:

For adults, read our physical activity and sedentary behaviour recommendations for people aged 18 to 64 years.

We acknowledge the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology as the originator of the Canadian ‘24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth (aged 5–17 years)’, which were used in the development of these recommendations.

Last updated: 
6 May 2021

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