New physical activity guidelines for children and young people

10 May 2017
girl running 2

The Ministry of Health has updated the physical activity guidelines for children and young people aged 5 - 17 years and included advice on sleep and screen time.

The guidelines have been updated in conjunction with Sport New Zealand and the Ministry of Education and expand on the original guidelines developed in 2007.

The updated guidelines include:

  • New sleep recommendations, including uninterrupted good-quality sleep of 9 to 11 hours a night (for 5 to 13 year olds) and 8 to 10 hours a night (for 14 to 17 year olds)
  • Advice on regular physical activity and reducing sitting time, including at least one hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Details on doing more vigorous-intensity activities at least three days a week
  • Specifics about activities to strengthen muscles and bones
  • A recommendation to have no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time.

These updated guidelines will be followed by the first-ever set of New Zealand physical activity guidelines for under-fives, which will be released at the end of May 2017.

The Education Minister, Nikki Kaye, says the new guidelines support the work being carried out under the Childhood Obesity Plan, released in October 2015.

“In line with the weight management guidance released at the end of last year, these guidelines recognise the importance of good-quality sleep for children and young people as an aspect of weight management,” she says.

 “We now also know that good-quality sleep is associated with better emotional development and academic achievement. The majority of children and young people get the recommended amount of sleep, but we know that up to one in four school age children and one in five teenagers don’t.”

Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, says the guidelines take a holistic approach.

“Children and young people are encouraged to live an active lifestyle. To sit less, move more and sleep well to support their healthy development,” he says.

The guidelines: Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well – Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Young People is available on the Ministry of Health website here.