Physical Activity for Children

Purpose of the Guidelines

SHAPE America seeks to provide meaningful physical activity guidelines for parents, physical education teachers, classroom teachers, youth physical activity leaders administrators, physicians, health professionals, and all others dedicated to promoting physically active lifestyles among children.

The guidelines provide information concerning how much physical activity is appropriate for preadolescent children (ages 5 through 12). Physical activity, broadly defined, includes exercise, sport, dance, as well as other movement forms.

The Guidelines

The full document contains detailed interpretations of the following brief guideline statements. Other sections include a rationale for the guidelines, importance of sound nutrition, important concepts about physical activity for children, appropriate activity models for children, using the physical activity pyramid to help children make activity choices, and recommendations for promoting physical activity in schools and physical education.

Guideline 1.
Children should accumulate at least 60 minutes, and up to several hours, of age-appropriate physical activity on all, or most days of the week. This daily accumulation should include moderate and vigorous physical activity with the majority of the time being spent in activity that is intermittent in nature.

Guideline 2.
Children should participate in several bouts of physical activity lasting 15 minutes or more each day.

Guideline 3.
Children should participate each day in a variety of age-appropriate physical activities designed to achieve optimal health, wellness, fitness, and performance benefits.

Guideline 4.
Extended periods (periods of two hours or more) of inactivity are discouraged for children, especially during the daytime hours.