For the first time in the UK the physical activity guidelines, published in July 2011, include recommendations for the amount of physical activity that under-fives should be doing. This reflects a growing awareness of the importance of physical activity for this age group and follows the lead of other major countries.

The guidelines are relevant to all children under the age of five irrespective of gender, race or socioeconomic status, but should be interpreted with consideration for individual physical and mental capabilities.

Physical activity guidelines for the under fives

  • Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
  • Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
  • All under fives should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

These guidelines are designed to help early years professionals and practitioners understand the type and amount of physical activity under fives should do to benefit their health.

Download Public Health England physical activity for early years infographic

Support and dissemination

We have produced a number of resources which are designed to provide early years practitioners and health professionals with practical tips on using the physical activity guidelines effectively.