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Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative

Physical Activity for Children

Small girl enjoying playground structure

Engaging in physical activity is an important part of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The recommended types and amounts of physical activity depend on the age of your child. Encourage your child to be active in a way that is fun and enjoyable to build long-lasting healthy habits.

Physical activity tips for children ages 2-5 years

  • Preschool-aged children should be physically active throughout the day.
  • Engage the whole family in active play.
  • Choose active childcare settings that promote activity.
  • Limit screen time to less than 1 hour per day.

Physical activity tips for children ages 6-12 years

  • Aim for least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity per day.
  • Include the whole family in active play.
  • Make physical activity fun. Children can choose from organized sports to activities such as walking, running, skating, biking, and swimming, and free play.
  • Choose active afterschool settings that promote activity.
  • Limit screen time with TV, computers, phones, tablets, and video games throughout the day and avoid use of electronics during meals.

MCAH Resources:

Systems and Environmental Changes for Physical Activity
Provides information for community leaders and policy makers on how upstream strategies can make physical activity more accessible.

MyPlate Resources to help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Tools and handouts encourage children, teens and pregnant and breastfeeding women to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day and be physically active.

Other Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Provides information on how much physical activity children need for their age group, the three types of physical activity that children should participate in, and how to make physical activity part of a child's life.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition 
Chapter 3 Active Children and Adolescents provides physical activity recommendations for children and adolescents ages 3 through 17 years old. Includes examples of age-appropriate aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening exercises and offers guidance on physical activity for those with special considerations and disabilities.

We Can! Move More Every Day: Goal Setting Sheet 
Physical activity goal setting worksheet for families to complete together.

Move Your Way: 60 Minutes a Day Fact Sheet for Children and Adolescents 
Information on how to meet physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 
Provides tips for families to reduce sedentary screen time.

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