How much exercise?

Current health guidelines state that everyone under the age of 18 should exercise for at least 1 hour every day and this exercise should include a combination of moderate–intensity aerobic activity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Aerobic exercise increases your heart and breathing rate, strengthens your heart muscle and improves oxygen delivery to all parts of your body. Good aerobic fitness will boost your energy levels and ensure you can stay physically active for longer without getting tired – it improves your fitness.

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is when you are working hard enough to raise your heartbeat and break into a sweat. You should still be able to talk but not sing a song. Activities include: walking fast (with the dog, or to school, or around town), cycling on level ground, rollerskating or skateboarding.
  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is exercising so you are breathing hard and fast and your heart rate rises quite a bit. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. Activities include: running, energetic dancing, swimming, aerobics, gymnastics or riding a bike fast or on hilly ground.

You also need to include muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three times a week. Strong muscles help protect your joints and prevent injuries. A strong core, for example, will help prevent back problems in future. Weight-bearing exercise will build strong bones and help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis in later life.

  • Muscle-strengthening activities are when you lift your own bodyweight or work against a resistance. Activities include: sit-ups or push-ups, gymnastics, indoor or rock climbing, tree-climbing, football, basketball and tennis.
  • Bone-strengthening activities produce an impact or tension force on your bones which promotes bone growth and strength. Activities include: dancing, aerobics, weight-training, running, skipping with a rope, martial arts, and other sports such as football, netball, hockey and badminton.