One Step At a Time: Helping Young Children Be Active!
   

Physical Activity Guidelines for Young Children

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education developed guidelines for physical activity for young children.3

Guidelines for Children Ages 1–2
(12 to 35 Months)

Guidelines for Children Ages 3–4
(36 to 60 Months)

Structured Physical Activity

Children need at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day.

Children need at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity each day.

Unstructured Physical Activity

Children need at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity each day.

Children need at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity each day.

Sedentary Activity

Children should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.

Children should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.

Motor Skills

Children need lots of opportunities to develop movement skills.

Children need to be encouraged to develop motor skills.

Safety Standards

Children need access to indoor and outdoor areas.

Children need access to indoor and outdoor areas.

Adult Responsibility

Parents and other caregivers need to give children opportunities for structured and unstructured physical activity and movement experiences.

Parents and other caregivers need to give children opportunities for structured and unstructured physical activity.


Boy Playing HopscotchStructured physical activity is an activity that is planned and intentionally directed by an adult. Examples of structured physical activity include bean bag games, follow the leader, and musical chairs.

Unstructured physical activities are sometimes called “free time” or “self-selected free play.” They are activities that children start by themselves. Examples of unstructured physical activity include riding a toy or bike, playing tag, or playing on a playground.


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