Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Babies, Preschoolers, Youth and Teens

Keeping your child active is important for their long-term health and prevents avoidable health issues such as obesity and stress. It’s paramount to keep children active from a young age and that this activity continues all the way through to their teens and early adult lives where they become more independent with their active life choices. As they grow, activities can become more skills-based and vigorous, helping with cognition as well as motor skills. There are many ways to promote an active lifestyle for your child and it can be a fun activity for the whole family! 

Below you will find guidelines and examples of activities for each age group to help you plan an active life for your child.

Early Years:

Children in the early years should be physically active as a part of games, sports, recreation and physical education. For infants (under a year old), toddlers (ages 1 -2) and preschoolers (ages 3-4), the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Infants

  • Infants should be physically active several times throughout the day, for example: interactive floor-based play, tummy time (at least 30 minutes), crawling around the home

Guidelines for Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Toddlers and preschoolers should aim for 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity daily, for example: climbing stairs, playing outside, exploring their environment, crawling, brisk walking, dancing
  • Work towards 60 minutes of energetic play by age 5

Download Full PDF: Physical Activity Guidelines for Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

Youths and Teens:

  • For youths and teens, ages 12-17, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends the following guidelines.
  • 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intense aerobic physical activity or energetic play every day
  • Vigorous activities 3 days a week
  • Muscle and Bone-strengthening activities 3 days a week

What type of activities should children and youth be doing?

Moderate Intensity Physical Activities 

  • Skating
  • Bike riding
  • Dancing
  • Speed walking
  • Swimming

Vigorous Intensity Physical Activities

  • Running
  • Rollerblading
  • Group games such as soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey

Download Full PDF: Physical Activity Guidelines for Youth

For children of all ages, the Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines suggests the following:

  • Limit recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours a day
  • Limit sedentary motorized transport, extended sitting and time spent indoors

Download Full PDF: Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Youth

What are the benefits?

  • Improved movement skills
  • Improved motor skills
  • Increased fitness
  • Develop/improve self-confidence
  • Improved learning and attention
  • Improved health
  • Improved body composition, bone density and cholesterol levels
  • Improved fitness
  • Decreased stress

Promoting Physical Activity with Your Toddler, Child or Teen

Make sure your little one has safe places to play in, is supervised and is dressed for the weather so they can have fun and explore the outdoors. There are so many ways to promote physical activity with your child, you just have to put your mind to it and you’re off! Playing outdoors also offer you’re the opportunity to increase your own activity level! Get moving daily!

For teens, this is not just the responsibility of the child or youth, parents and caregivers can work together. Get your child to walk or bike to school, get the neighborhood kids together for a game of basketball after school or get involved in sports activities. Remember physical activity is key to staying happy and healthy! Encourage your child to follow their own passions/interests that encourage increased physical activity such as dance, karate, gymnastics or team sports. Get moving with them!

Learn About Our East Vancouver Wellness Centre

At Backs in Action, we believe looking after one’s wellbeing starts at an early age, and that’s why we offer our services to children as well as adults. We invite you to learn more about Benefits of Physiotherapy and Backs in Action Rehab & Wellness Centre in East Vancouver!

Visit our website anytime or come drop by the clinic to visit us in person! We are located a Skytrain ride away from Burnaby and Downtown Vancouver and are steps from the Renfrew Sky Train Station!