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Even infants can exercise, say new guidelines in U.K.

July 11, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Children younger than 5--and even infants who can't walk yet--should get physical activity every day and avoid sedentary screen time, say new guidelines by the U.K.'s health department.
Children younger than 5--and even infants who can't walk yet--should… (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles…)

Young children have no excuse not to exercise—even if they can’t walk yet.

That’s the gist of the new exercise guidelines released Monday by the U.K. health department, which urge parents to make sure their 1- to 5-year-olds get at least three hours of physical activity per day.

The report comes down hard on sedentary time too: Children age 2 through 5 should have only one hour of TV or computer screen time each day—and those younger than 2 should have no screen time at all, say the new guidelines.

A fact sheet includes helpful tips for getting “under-5’s” to burn calories—by rolling around on the floor, pushing and pulling objects, and having swim sessions with parents.

The report’s background states:

“The evidence suggests that physical activity, especially in the form of play, during the first five years of life is a basic and essential dimension which must be fostered, encouraged and provided. Conversely there are many opportunities for young children to spend excessive time in sedentary behaviour which should be limited and replaced with more physically active options.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an hour or more of physical activity a day for children and adolescents, but the U.S. doesn’t have guidelines for young children. Yet 1 in 7 low-income preschool children in the U.S. is obese—not just overweight, but obese.

The heavy tots aren’t alone. Some 2 out of 3 American adults are overweight or obese--maybe it wouldn't hurt for parent and baby to exercise together.

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