News & events

How Much Activity Should Small Children Do Each Day? 


Regular physical activity can help children with their: 

  • Bone and muscle development (stronger bones and muscles, lower risk of injuries) 
  • Balance, movement and coordination 
  • Maintaining healthy weight 
  • Mental, emotional and social wellbeing 
  • Better sleep patterns (a must for consolidating what they learn each day) 
  • Learning and thinking  

Further, more physical activity also means less screen time (fewer hours for just sitting and staring at a screen). In contrast, too much screen time can make children have less time and opportunities for interacting with physical objects and the environment. This can affect their brain development and social skills (because of less interaction with fellow kids). 

It’s especially the case recently where children seem to spend too much time on digital consumption (average of 2.2 hours each day, source): 

  • 4-5 years (1.6 hours) 
  • 6-7 years (1.9 hours) 
  • 8-9 years (2.7 hours) 

Those hours could have been spent on active play, which provides more benefits because it supports physical, mental, emotional and social development. Also, staring at a smartphone might become a difficult habit to break because the internet presents endless notifications, distraction and stimulation. 

How much physical activity should small children do each day? 

In general, screen time should be minimal (as well as time sitting or lying down except for sleep time) while active play should be a few or several hours. Here’s a rough guideline on how much physical activity should they do daily: 

  • Infants (birth to 12 months): floor-based play and tummy time several times each day 
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years): at least 3 hours of various physical activities, including running, skipping and jumping 
  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): more energetic play at least 3 hours daily and also activities such as throwing and kicking 

The goal is to give children enough time to move around and explore what they’re already capable of (e.g. how fast they can run, how high they can jump). This way, their bones and muscles will be exercised and be guided into proper development. This will also help them with their real-world learning.