Fitness and exercise for kids and teens

Active kids are happy kids

We all know the importance of encouraging children to be active and to eat healthy food. However getting them off the couch and away from snack foods can be pretty tricky.

Making it a family priority, can really help.

When it comes to being active, kids and teenagers need more activity than adults – at least one hour but up to three hours a day of physical activity for school-aged kids is beneficial.

Get active any way you can

It’s important that kids and teens get a combination of moderate activities (such as walking and bike riding) and vigorous activities (like running, dancing and fast spaced sports) for at least 60 minutes a day.

In fact, it doesn’t need to be an organised activity, because any sort of active play will usually include some vigorous exercise.

What’s more, by doing at least 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity, three to four days a week, will improve fitness and give them even greater benefits.

How can I help?

As an adult, there are heaps of fun ways to get your kids off the couch and be more active:

  • Be a good role model for your kids
  • If you are active and value an active lifestyle, your kids will notice and are much more likely to copy these habits.
  • Be active together and make exercise a family pursuit.
  • Think about using your feet first for trips – save money and help the environment by leaving the car at home for short journeys and taking the bike or walking there instead.
  • Support your children's choice of activities - Some kids like organised sports, while others prefer less structure. Either way, make sure you support them in whatever activity they take up.
  • Try new things - Kids need a variety of things that they enjoy doing, and trying new activities and learning new skills can be both challenging and enormously rewarding.
    • give active gifts that encourage movement and activity
    • learn something new together
    • go on bike rides
    • work in the garden
    • wash the car
    • play music to move and dance to
    • explore new places by foot or bike
    • go to playgrounds
    • just play.

For information on being active as a family the Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Families (PDF 874KB) is a great place to start.

Off the couch

Too much time watching the telly, on the internet, playing video games or just sitting around is bad for everyone, including kids. 

It’s important to keep screen time to less than two hours a day – and even less or no screen time at all for young children, as it takes up valuable time that’s better spent moving and playing.

The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People (5-17 years) (PDF 879KB) provides great information on how to be more active and have fun while you’re doing it.