Physical Activity

Only 9% of children aged 2-4 years meet the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines of three hours per day. This means 91% of children are missing out! Physical activity in the early years helps to:

  • maintain a healthy weight
  • develop good posture, strength and balance
  • teach children about their bodies and the world around them
  • support brain development, social and cognitive skills and emotional wellbeing
  • support achievement and attainment.

Early Years settings can make a difference by ensuring children are physically active whilst in your care. Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments. Children need to try a range of physical movements using fine and gross motor skills.

National guidance

Chief Medical Office’s Physical Activity Guidelines has information for under 5s not yet walking, and under 5s capable of walking

Chief Medical Officer’s Physical Activity Guidelines women after childbirth

Chief Medical Officer's Physical Activity Guidelines for pregnant women

Start Active, Stay Active a UK-wide report explaining the frequency and type of physical activity required to achieve general health benefits

The Best Start in Life a manifesto for physical activity in the early years (internal link)

Advice and resources

Early Years Physical Activity resources from the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine. Factsheets and briefing papers.

Physical Development Approaches by the Education Endowment Foundation

Early Years Physical Literacy Framework from the Youth Sport Trust

Active Matters is a dedicated site for physical development in the early years

Energise Me aims to beat inactivity in Hampshire. They are a member of the Active Partnerships network.

Start4Life Toddler Activities

Physical Activity for the Under 5s NHS guidelines

Explore what activities are on offer in local areas via the Family Information and Services Hub