The United Kingdom recently released its public health guidelines for physical activity. For the first time, the publication includes recommendations for those under 5 years old. The guidelines are based on research that supports the benefits of adopting healthy behavior in early years.

According to the report’s authors, “These guidelines reflect a growing awareness that early life experiences impact upon future health outcomes, and draw on notable recent advances in the science of physical activity and health.”

Here are the guidelines for physical activity for those under 5 years:

  1. Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and safe water-based activities. Activities that involve crawling and rolling on the floor are recommended, as well as parent-and-baby swim lessons. These types of physical activity also help little ones create social and emotional bonds with parents, siblings and other children.
  2. Walking preschool-age children should be active for at least 180 minutes throughout the day. The authors suggest ability-appropriate
    activities that incorporate motor skill development—for example, unstructured active play, dance or gymnastics lessons and passive play such as drawing.
  3. No child under 5 years should spend extended periods of time restrained or inactive.

To read the full report, visit www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_128209.