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Table 4 2020 WHO physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents (5–17 years)

From: 2020 WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour for children and adolescents aged 5–17 years: summary of the evidence

For children and adolescents, physical activity can be undertaken as part of recreation and leisure (play, games, sports or planned exercise), physical education, transportation (wheeling, walking and cycling) or household chores, in the context of educational, home, and community settings.

In children and adolescents, physical activity confers benefits for the following health outcomes: improved physical fitness (cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness), cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, glucose, and insulin resistance), bone health, cognitive outcomes (academic performance, executive function), mental health (reduced symptoms of depression); and reduced adiposity.

It is recommended that:

 • Children and adolescents should do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity, across the week.

Strong recommendation, moderate certainty evidence

 • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least 3 days a week.

Strong recommendation, moderate certainty evidence

Good practice statements:

 ❖ Doing some physical activity is better than doing none.

 ❖ If children and adolescents are not meeting the recommendations, doing some physical activity will benefit their health.

 ❖ Children and adolescents should start by doing small amounts of physical activity, and gradually increase the frequency, intensity and duration over time.

 ❖ It is important to provide all children and adolescents with safe and equitable opportunities, and encouragement, to participate in physical activities that are enjoyable, offer variety, and are appropriate for their age and ability.