Physical Activity Guidelines for Youth

Children need physical activity to grow and develop—from their brains to their bones. Help encourage children to be physically active through a variety of activities and being an active role model.

Recommendations for Children 3-5 years old

Grow and develop. Children ages 3-5 need physical activity to help them grow and develop.

Encourage and engage. Adult caregivers of pre-school aged children should encourage regularly physical activity through active play and a variety of activities.

Recommendations for Children and Adolescents 6-17 years old

Choose variety. Children and adolescents need a variety of options to find enjoyable physical activity.

Aim for 60 minutes. Children and adolescents should engage in 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day, and should include.

Aerobic exercise, as part of daily 60 minutes, for at least three days a week.

Muscle strengthening, as part of daily 60 minutes, for at least three days a week.

Bone strengthening, as part of daily 60 minutes for at least three days a week.

Health Benefits

  • Improved bone health and weight status of children 3-5 years
  • Improved cognitive function for youth ages 6-13 years
  • Brain health benefits, including possible improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, improved sleep and improved quality of life

Safety Tips

Physical activity can be safely done by almost everyone. However, children and adolescents should be under the care of a health care provider if they have chronic conditions to see what physical activity would be most appropriate.

Choose activities that fit your child’s level of fitness and health goals. Remember to increase physical activity gradually with low intensity activities and slowly moving to more intense activities. Always use appropriate sports and protective equipment to stay safe in the chosen physical activity!