Healthy Children: Sit Less, Play More

Wednesday 12th June 2019

Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy, according to new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five years of age were developed by a WHO panel of experts. They assessed the effects on young children of inadequate sleep, and time spent sitting watching screens or restrained in chairs and prams. They also reviewed evidence around the benefits of increased activity levels.

Click here to access the guidelines

The pattern of overall 24-hour activity is key: replacing prolonged restrained or sedentary screen time with more active play, while making sure young children get enough good-quality sleep. Quality sedentary time spent in interactive non-screen-based activities with a caregiver, such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles, is very important for child development.

physical activity guidelines image

Recommendations at a glance:

Infants (less than 1 year) should:

Children 1-2 years of age should:

Children 3-4 years of age should:

image of children playing football