- Healthy living
- Babies and toddlers
- Emergency management
- Environmental health
- Food and physical activity
- Green Prescriptions
- Physical activity
- How much activity is recommended?
- Choosing an activity
- Activity guides
- Tips for getting active
- Get up, get going
- Keeping fit, keeping healthy
- Mums, dads and caregivers
- Activities for children and young people
- Activities for under-fives
- Older people (65 and over)
- Inactivity and sedentary behaviour
- Activity levels in NZ
- Guidance for workplaces
- Sexual health
- Stop the spread of disease
- Teeth and gums
Activities for children and young people
Children and young people need to be active at home, at school, at play during the weekends and in the community. They should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.
The table below provides examples of activities for children and young people that have aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening benefits.
- Aerobic activities increase their heart rate and keep them fit.
- Muscle-strengthening activities build strength in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. They improve joint function and reduce the potential for injury.
- Bone-strengthening activities are just what they sound like – plus they can double as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities!
Active transport (eg, walking, cycling, and scooting) provides an opportunity for children of all abilities to take part in physical activity. 275,000 children (47%) aged 5–14 years usually use active transport to get to school.
Check the HealthEd pamphlet Be Active Every Day to learn about the different intensity levels, and remember that activities such as cycling can be moderate or vigorous depending on the effort level.
|Type of activity||Children's activities||Young people's activities|
|Moderate intensity aerobic||
What if they get hurt?
Some physical activity can result in injury – but it’s generally preventable.
Make sure your child:
- wears appropriate clothing and footwear
- wears sunscreen for outdoor activities in summer
- knows about and practices footpath and road safety
- has the right safety gear and wears it correctly (eg, helmet for cycling or roller blading, knee and elbow pads for roller blading, personal floatation device for on the water).
For most children and young people, the benefits of physical activity outweigh any risks. And remember – muscle- and bone-strengthening activities can both reduce the chances of injury!
Plus, getting them in good habits now means they’re at less risk of chronic diseases and obesity later in life.
Don’t go overboard
Kids don’t need formal muscle-strengthening programmes such as weight lifting. For younger kids, things like gymnastics, climbing trees and playing on the jungle gym will strengthen their muscles just fine.
Older children and teenagers may start structured resistance or strength training (and circuit training) as part of sports programmes or generally to increase their strength.
Children and teens should avoid power lifting, body building, and maximal lifts until they reach physical and skeletal maturity.