The World Health Organization (WHO) published new guidelines this spring regarding physical activity and sleep for children under 5 years old.
They looked at the impact of lack of exercise and poor sleep on childhood obesity, mental health, and general wellbeing as well as long-term consequences of these poor lifestyle habits. They estimated that 80% of adolescents are not physically active enough, and there is a hope that implementing more physical activity at an early age will translate into long-term healthier habits.
Unfortunately, young children often spend too much time looking at a screen, whether it be the television, a computer or a cell phone, and don’t spend enough time playing and being active.
In summary, the new guidelines recommend that:
- Spend at least 30 min in a prone position, or be physically active several times a day if they are mobile;
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller);
- Have 14-17 h (0-3 months) or 12-16 h (4-11 months) or sleep per day, including naps.
Children 1-2 years of age should:
- Spend at least 180 min per day being physically active;
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (including no screen time for 1-year-olds and no more than 1 hour per day for 2-years-olds);
- Sleep 11-14 hours per day.
Children 3-4 years of age should:
- Spend at least 180 min per day being physically active (of which at least 60 min is moderate to vigorous in intensity)
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (including no more than 1 hour per day of screen time)
- Sleep 10-13 hours per day.
Source: WHO Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep for children under 5 years of age