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Under 5's

Physical Activity Guidelines forRed leaflet
Under 5's Walking and Non-Walking

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Early Years (Under 5’s)
For infants who are not yet walking

1. Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
2. All under 5’s should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

Individual physical and mental capabilities should be considered when interpreting the guidelines. This list is not exhaustive, and you need to take into consideration the person’s own development when choosing a relevant activity.

Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines

For infants who are not yet walking, physical activity refers to movement of any intensity and may include:

  • ‘Tummy time’ – this includes any time spent on the stomach including rolling and playing on the floor;
  • Reaching for and grasping objects, pulling, pushing and playing with other people.
  • ‘Parent and baby’ swim sessions

Floor-based and water-based play encourage infants to use their muscles and develop motor skills. They also provide valuable opportunities to build social and emotional bonds.
Minimising sedentary behaviour is also important for health and development and may include:

  • Reducing time spent in infant carriers or seats
  • Reducing time spent in walking aids or baby bouncers (these limit free movement)
  • Reducing time spent in front of TV or other screens.

What are the benefits of movement?

  • Develops motor skills
  • Improves cognitive development
  • Contributes to a healthy weight
  • Enhances bone and muscular development
  • Supports learning of social skills.

Early Years (Under 5’s)
For children who are capable of walking

1. 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.
2. All under 5’s should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

Individual physical and mental capabilities should be considered when interpreting the guidelines. This list is not exhaustive, and you need to take into consideration the person’s own development when choosing a relevant activity.

Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines

Physical activity is likely to occur mainly through unstructured active play but may also include more structured activities. Activities can be of any intensity (light or more energetic) and may include:

  • Activities which involve movements of all the major muscle groups; that is - the legs, buttocks, shoulders and arms, and movement of the trunk from one place to another
  • Energetic play; for example - using a climbing-frame or riding a bike
  • More energetic bouts of activity; for example -  running and chasing games
  •  Walking/skipping to shops, a friend’s home, a park, or to and from a school

Minimising sedentary behaviour may include:

  • Reducing time spent watching TV, using the computer or playing video games
  • Reducing time spent in a pushchair or car seat – this can also help to break up long periods of sedentary behaviour.

What are the benefits of being active for at least 180 minutes each day?

  • Improves cardiovascular health    
  • Contributes to a healthy weight
  • Improves muscle and bone health
  • Supports learning of social skills
  • Develops movement and co-ordination.

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For further information and advice on GoDoActive and physical activities aimed at your age group, click on the database link above or contact:

GoDoActive

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