Physical Activity for Kids

Physical Activity for Kids

In Ireland, four out of five children are not getting enough exercise.  Just 19% of primary and 12% of post-primary school children are meeting current recommendations of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity.  Being active is also important for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.


Babies 0-1 years

It is important that babies have the opportunity for free movement in a safe, supervised and nurturing environment.  Encourage your baby to be physically active by reaching, rolling, pushing and learning to move their head, arms, legs and body.  They need to be active several times a day especially through interactive floor-based play. It’s also recommended mother and babyyou place your baby on their tummy for a short time each day to help stretch and develop their muscles. However always supervise your baby when playing on their tummy, never letting your baby fall asleep in this position. Placing a toy just outside their reach so they have to make an extra effort to stretch and reach for it will help develop these muscles. It is also important to limit the amount of time your baby spends in restricted positions in cars seats, bouncers and walkers.


Toddler 1-3 years

Toddlers who are walking need to be active every day for at least three hours spread throughout toddler playing with red footballthe day including light activities such as playing on the floor and more vigorous such as running and jumping. Limit the amount of time your young child is not active. 

Time watching television or other screen-related activities should be limited to a maximum of one hour per day for children over two years of age. Rest in between active play is important too, napping and activities such as drawing, listening to stories and making puzzles all contribute to your child’s overall health and development.


Children 3 – 6 years

All children aged over 3, who are capable of walking unaided, should be physically active every day for at least three hours spread throughout the day.

Of this, at least one hour (60 minutes) should consist of structured energetic activity such as group of children runningswimming or playing a game of chase. It does not all need to take place at once – short sessions of 10-15 minutes can be built up over the day. Time watching television or other screen related activities should be limited to a maximum of one hour per day. Children need daily opportunities to play outdoors for daily opportunities to develop a wide range of movement skills such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing and ball games.


Physical activity helps a child to…

  • Develop their senses
  • Develop good strength, balance and posture
  • Learn about how their bodies work
  • Build social and emotional bonds
  • Develop essential movement skills
  • Develop strong bones
  • Improve their self confidence
  • Lay foundations for a lifetime of fitness
  • Improve coordination and flexibility
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

More Information

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Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

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