Government physical activity guidelines

How much physical activity should you be doing

Child activity level guidelines

Birth to five years

The government recommendation for children from birth to five years is to aim for three hours every day of physical activity.  

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines for physical activity for early years (birth to 5 years)

Only around one in ten children aged two to four years meet the government recommendation (boys 9%, girls 10%)

Children and young people aged five to eighteen activity guidelines

The government recommendation for children aged five to eighteen is for 60 minutes of physical activity everyday including muscle and bone strengthening activities three times a week.

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines for physical activity for children aged five to eighteen.

Only 21% of boys 5 to 15 and 16% of girls aged 5 to 15 achieve the guidelines

Only 24% of 5 to 7 year old boys and 23% of 5 to 7 year old girls achieve the guidelines

By aged 13 to 15 boys are 14% and girls are 8%. (Health Survey for England 2012)

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Olympic Games Commission stated in 2012 that today’s children are the “least active generation in history” and could be the first generation in existence to have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents.

Adult physical activity level guidelines

The government recommendation for adults is for 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week or a combination of both and muscle and bone strengthening activities two days a week.

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines for physical activity for adults.

Current research shows that:

1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men in England are classed as physically inactive in that they are doing less than 30 minutes exercise a week.

Only 34% of men and 24% of women do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Men are more likely than women to average six or more hours of total sedentary (sitting) time on both weekdays and at weekends.