Daily Activity Guidelines for Children and Adolescents

By Physiotherapist, Richard Kelly

Exercise is important for all of us, but our kids’ development and long-term (physical and mental) health depend on it, and our lockdown restrictions might be making it very difficult to keep some of them moving.

A prolonged period of physical inactivity during childhood or adolescence can have significant and long-lasting health effects, such as reduced bone density (osteoporosis) in adulthood, and increased risk of obesity. And over a lifetime, physical inactivity is known to increase our risk of other serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, which means it’s important for our kids to make keeping active a normal part of their lives, for life.  So how much activity should our kids be getting?

Current International Guidelines for activity levels for children and adolescents:

  • 60min of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per day
  • 2-3 resistance training sessions per week

To gain the benefits, it’s not only the amount of activity that’s important but also the type and the intensity. To stimulate increases in bone density, for example, we need to “surprise” bone with short bursts of high-impact activity such as jumping or hopping. So stick to the guidelines, and make sure your kids keep the intensity high.

Resistance training has many benefits (such as increased muscle strength, improved cognition, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease), and is definitely SAFE for children and adolescents. The only disclaimer here is kids must be taught appropriate technique, and progression to more complex strength training programs, with higher resistances, needs to be done with expert guidance. 

We know everyone has a lot to deal with at the moment, but hopefully, lockdown can be seen as a fantastic opportunity to spend time with our kids and help them develop healthy habits for life. Our physios are here to help if your children need exercise guidance, are interested in strength training, or for sport-specific conditioning programs to ensure an injury-free return to high performance when the time finally comes.

Lastly, movement is good for everyone so if you are struggling to gain some motivation from the kids why not join in and have some fun together?