Physical Activity

Physical Activity Guidelines

In 2008, the federal government published the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to provide information and guidance to policymakers, health professionals and members of the public on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide substantial health benefits. These are the first physical activity guidelines ever to be published by the federal government. The guidelines are science-based recommendations for persons aged six and older, including children and adolescents aged 6–17.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Adolescents state that children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day. The guidelines state that the physical activity should at least be of moderate-intensity, and include vigorous-intensity activities at least three days per week. Muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities should each be included at least three days a week, as part of the 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

The key points to remember are that children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Most of the 60 minutes should be spent doing aerobic activity. It is very important that children and adolescents participate in a variety of activities, especially activities that they enjoy. This enhances skill development, reduces the risk of overuse injuries and increases the likelihood of continuing to be active as they get older. It is also important to know that the guidelines take into consideration the natural activity patterns of children. Children often move between short bursts of activity and short periods of rest. All episodes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activities count towards daily requirement and unstructured active play can provide all three types of physical activity.

National Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Resources

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website)

School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)

Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)