Be Active Every Day: Physical activity for 5- to 18-year-olds

Be Active Every Day: Physical activity for 5- to 18-year-olds

HE Code: 
Pamphlet DLE
Publication date: 
1 December 2010
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Help your children achieve at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day for their health and well-being.

Physical activity for 5- to 18-year-olds

at least 60 min

Be active

Children and young people should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

Sixty minutes a day will help your child:

  • develop strong muscles, bones and joints
  • move with balance and flexibility
  • develop and maintain a healthy heart and lungs
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • build self-confidence and social skills.

The more they move, the greater the benefit.

Aim for a mix of activities – aerobic + strength + flexibility

  • Swimming, cycling, kapa haka, touch rugby, and kilikiti will raise their heart rate and get oxygen pumping round their bodies.
  • Skipping, jumping, and using climbing or park equipment will build muscle and bone strength.
  • Bending and stretching will keep them flexible.

Physical activity is any movement of the body that uses energy.

Aim for lots of moderate and some vigorous activities

Moderate Vigorous

I’m breathing faster and my heart is beating a bit more.

I can still talk! 

I’m puffing and my heart is beating faster.

I can only say a few words without taking a breath 

  • Walking the dog
  • Biking on the flat
  • Playing at the park or pool
  • Ballet, modern dance
  • Gym
  • Running games
  • Mountain biking
  • Uphill tramping
  • Fast lap swimming
  • Summer and winter sports 

Look for ways to encourage activity

Encourage children and young people to look for opportunities to move throughout their day, eg, walking or biking to school, taking the stairs not the escalator.

Encourage them to try new activities or sports and to discover which ones they most enjoy. Support these interests. Give feedback and praise.

Join in the action

Do activities as a family. Turn off the TV for active playtime. Involve everyone in deciding what to do.

It’s never too early to begin

Movement is important from birth – helping young children to be active will help their learning and development.

Encourage play that helps build fundamental skills such as running, jumping and skipping, balance, landing and turning, and throwing and catching.

Help your children to be active safely

Make sure your child:

  • wears appropriate clothing and footwear
  • wears sunscreen for outdoor activities in summer
  • has the right safety gear and wears it correctly
  • knows about and practises footpath and road safety.

If you have concerns about your child’s health or physical activity, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Provide good fuel for action

Related resources

See also the poster Be Active Every Day, HE2313.

Read more about healthy eating in Eating for Healthy Children Aged 2–12, HE1302, and Eating for Healthy Teenagers, HE1230.

You can look and order these, as well as other nutrition resources, at

Additional information