The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has today published new guidance on physical activity.
The guidelines advise on safe levels of activity for pregnant women or new mums as well as babies and children. They recommend:
- A moderate amount of exercise for pregnant women to help regain strength, ease back pain and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Infants not yet mobile should do at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day while awake (and other movements such as reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling themselves independently or rolling over).
- Toddlers should spend at least three hours per day in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including active and outdoor play, spread throughout the day.
- Pre-schoolers should spend at least three hours per day in a variety of physical activities, including active and outdoor play. The 180 minutes should include at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.
- Children and young people (5 to 18 years) should engage in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week.
- Children and young people should aim to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary, and when physically possible should break up long periods of not moving with at least light physical activity.
In response, Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:
Physical activity has many benefits - it’s good for the heart and mind – and when coupled with a healthy diet, can enhance a child’s health and wellbeing dramatically. So these updates to the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines are extremely welcome.
We know that healthy children are much more likely to grow into healthy adults. But key to longevity and success is embedding healthy habits into life early and making them part of a routine.
With busy schedules and modern day life getting in the way, we know families face a huge challenge at times to include physical activity in their day. However, as children’s doctors who regularly see the result of poor fitness and diet, we ask them to rise to the challenge and where possible, try and build exercise into daily routines – walking or cycling to school for example. We know that by doing so, it can have major mental and physical health benefits for their growing child both now and in the future.
The new guidelines are an update to those released in 2011, but the CMO says the overall message remains the same: any activity is better than none, and more is better still.