Physical Health and Wellbeing

In the words of our own Olivia Newton John – let’s get physical!

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Welcome to ‘Play Learn Grow’ and the release of our third domain – Physical Health and Wellbeing. Here you will find information, resources and ideas that encourage and support your child to be physically active every day. We will also explore why physical activity it is important to their development. To kick off the series, let’s look at the benefits of being physically active and how much time children should spend moving, grooving and shaking their bodies every day!

Why physical activity is important

Whether you are an adult or a child, being physically active every day is important for good physical and mental health, development and wellbeing. Children of all ages will benefit from being physically active and this can be in the form of many different activities. From floor play and tummy time for young babies, to running, jumping and dancing for older children, doing some sort of physical activity every day is not only great fun, but will help children establish good practices and stay healthy through adolescence and adulthood!

Wondering how long your baby or child should be physically active for each day? The following is recommended for children aged up to 12 years (as per Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines):

Birth to 1 year

Even before they are mobile, babies should be physically active several times a day in various ways, including interactive floor based play, moving around on the floor (moving their arms and legs, rolling, crawling) and 'tummy time’ while awake (at least 30 minutes per day).

1 to 5 years

At least 3 hours of being physically active, including running, jumping, dancing and/or skipping. Obviously the 3 hours doesn’t have to be done in one session, rather it should be spread out over the course of the day with breaks and time to rest in between.

5 to 12 years

At least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to increase the heart rate. That includes fast walking, riding a bike or scooter, playing, running and participating in organised sports. 60 minutes of physical activity doesn't have to be done all in one session. You can build it up so your child accumulates the physical activity over the day.


Physical activity ideas and recommendations

Ok, so now we know what the daily recommendations are for physical activity, what are some simple ideas or things your children can do at home or in the community that will get them up and about and moving? Over the next few weeks we will share with you some more ideas and activities on offer, but here’s a few to start with:

For infants (birth to 12 months)

  • Give your baby at least 30 minutes of tummy time over the course of the day (not all at once) while they are awake. Babies can move their arms and legs and lift their head. You can also lay on your tummy next to them or facing them and interact by talking and smiling.
  • Get down on the floor and play with your baby. If they can sit up, place some toys near them, encouraging them to reach and grasp the objects. Clap hands and move to rhythm or music.
  • Crawling, pulling themselves up to a standing position and taking their first steps are all ways babies stay physically active.

For toddlers (1 to 2 years)

Things become more interesting (and fun) once toddlers start to walk! Toddlers usually love to run and move around and that’s great. The more active play toddlers take part in, the better. You can give the following a try:

  • Create a simple and fun obstacle course at home, either inside or in the backyard. It might involve throwing a ball into a basket, jumping up and down 5 times, crawling under a chair and running from one end of the backyard to the other.
  • Head to the park or playground for some fun on the play equipment, or take a ball and throw it in the air or roll it along the ground.

For pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years)

Children aged 3 to 5 years have LOTS of energy! The more active play pre-schoolers take part in, the better. Give some of these a try: 

  • Ball games are great for kicking and throwing movements. Kick or throw a ball in the backyard or at the park.
  • Dancing - get some music going and dance around the lounge room or bedroom to your favourite tunes. You can even put on some fun clothes or dress ups.
  • Playgrounds are great places for active play! Play on the equipment and run around the open space. Take a frisbee to throw to each other.
  • Go for a bush walk and find a log your child can balance on. You might want to hold their hand. Can they do a big jump off it?

Remember, physical activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers should be FUN and encourage exploration and discovery.

And the other great news is that by participating in these fun activities with your child, you will also be physically active and healthy!


Quick facts

  • Physical activity can start very early in life as part of everyday play. Being active, eating good foods and receiving care and support from local health services can all help them grow up strong, happy and healthy.
  • Children aged 1-5 years need physical activity for at least 3 hours each day. For babies, 30 minutes of tummy time each day help them grow and develop.
  • You can get lots of help and information from the Maternal and Child Health Nurses about: raising happy, healthy kids; parenting information and family health and wellbeing.
  • Going to all of the MCH key age and stage visits is very important so you can keep track of your child’s height, weight, development, have eye sight checked, learn about play, food and sleeping.
  • Have fun at home running around in the backyard, playing a game of catch, throwing the frisbee or have a backyard picnic. Meet some friends at the park or playground. Go for a bushwalk or bike ride as a family.
  • A variety of healthy foods helps give children the energy they need to play, learn and grow.
  • Raising Children Network – Physical activity for young children.
  • See below for links to some fun activity sheets and information for families:
    • Got It – Activity Sheet
    • Looking for Mini Beasts – Activity Sheet
    • Making Body Shapes – Activity Sheet
    • Healthy-food-every-day
    • Healthy eating head to toe

Activity sheets

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