Advice for young people is to sit less, move more & sleep well

  • Jonathan Coleman
  • Nikki Kaye
Health Education

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Education Minister Nikki Kaye have today welcomed the released updated physical activity guidelines for children and young people aged five to 17.

“Children and young people are encouraged to live an active lifestyle. To sit less, move more and sleep well to support their healthy development,” says Dr Coleman.

“The guidelines include new sleep recommendations as well as updated advice on regular physical activity and reducing sitting time.

“They note the need for children and young people to do more vigorous-intensity activities and activities that strengthen muscles and bones like jumping and skipping at least three times a week.”

The new guidelines support the work being carried out under the Childhood Obesity Plan, which the Government released in October 2015.

“The previous guidelines for children and young people were published a decade ago and were in need of updating,” says Ms Kaye.

“We now know that good-quality sleep is associated with better emotional development and academic achievement. Although the majority of children and young people get the recommended amount of sleep, we know that up to one in four school age children and one in five teenagers don’t.

“In line with the weight management guidance released at the end of last year, these guidelines also recognise the importance of good-quality sleep for children and young people as an aspect of weight management.”

The updated advice for children and young people includes:

  • Uninterrupted good-quality sleep of 9 to 11 hours per night (for those aged 5 to 13 years) and 8 to 10 hours per night (for those aged 14 to 17 years), with consistent bed and wake-up times.
  • An accumulation of at least one hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities, and activities that strengthen muscle and bones should also be incorporated at least three days a week.
  • No more than two hours per day of recreational screen time.
  • Breaking up sitting time and participating in a variety of light physical activities for several hours.

The Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well – Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Young People is available on the Ministry of Health website,

The updated guidelines are in line with the Canadian 24 hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth which was released in 2016 and are based on their systematic evidence reviews.