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Age-Based Physical Activity Recommendations1

The following information covers best practices for physical activity to support healthy child development at different ages.

Infants (Birth through 11 months)

  • Tummy time at least 2 - 3 times per day for short periods of time or as tolerated
  • Daily planned physical activities that safely support developmental milestones (e.g., head and neck support, rolling, floor sitting, kicking, crawling, reaching and grasping for objects)
  • Supervised free play in open and safe places
  • Daily outdoor time in a safe setting supervised by an adult
  • Large, open, safe play surfaces
  • Developmentally-appropriate toys and equipment to promote movement and physical activity
    • Rattles; mobiles; balls; unbreakable mirrors; solid furniture to use for pulling-up, standing and cruising

Toddlers (1 through 2 years)

  • At least 30 minutes of daily structured activity, accumulated throughout the day
  • At least 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity every day, accumulated throughout the day
  • Daily outdoor time in a safe setting supervised by an adult
  • Free space
  • Developmentally-appropriate toys and equipment to encourage physical activity
    • Objects to roll, throw and kick (e.g., bean bags and large, soft balls)
    • Push toys (e.g., shopping carts, lawn mowers or doll carriages)
    • Wagons to fill with objects and pull, riding toys, low climbers
  • Participation in activities that are age-appropriate, fun and varied

Preschoolers (3 through 5 years)

  • At least 60 minutes of daily structured activity, accumulated throughout the day
  • At least 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity every day, accumulated throughout the day
  • Daily outdoor time in a safe setting supervised by an adult
  • Free space
  • Developmentally-appropriate toys and equipment to encourage physical activity
    • Tricycle or other riding toys, balls, bean bags and hoops
  • Hopscotch
  • Access to climbing equipment (backyard or playground)
  • Participation in activities that are age-appropriate, fun and varied

School-Aged (6 years and up)

  • At least 60 minutes of daily physical activity, accumulated throughout the day
  • Aerobic as well as age-appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities
    • Aerobic activities should be either moderate or vigorous in intensity. Vigorous physical activity should be done at least three days a week.
    • Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities should be part of the 60 minutes or more of physical activity at least three days a week
  • Daily outdoor time
  • Participation in activities that are age-appropriate, fun and varied
  1. For additional information on activities that should be limited, as well as those not recommended, please refer to "Best Practices for Physical Activity: A Guide to Help Children Grow up Healthy" (NHPS, 2009).