May 20,

Physical Activity

Physical Activity

What is physical activity?

Physical activity happens any time you use your muscles to move your body, resulting in increased heart rate and breathing. There are two main types of physical activity:

Active living is a way of life where physical activity is natural and integrated into daily life. It can be any type of physical activity. Examples include walking or cycling for transportation, active play and doing chores around the house.

Exercise is a form of physical activity that is planned, repetitive and purposeful to improve or maintain fitness. Examples include organized activities such as games and sports, child-appropriate “work-outs” and jogging.


Infants (aged less than 1 year) should be physically active several times a day – particularly through tummy time and interactive floor-based play.

Toddlers (aged 1–2 years) and preschoolers (aged 3–4 years) are recommended to get at least 3 hours of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day.

Children (aged 5-11) are recommended to get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily, and should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week.

Benefits of regular physical activity for children:

  • Healthy bodies: Being active helps kids build a healthy heart, bones and muscles. It also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Movement skills are developed that can be used for the rest of their lives.
  • Positive self-esteem and good mental health: Physical activity helps children feel good about themselves. It provides opportunity to help them master a skill. It helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Better learning/grades: Being active helps to improve memory and concentration, fosters creativity and problem-solving skills.
  • Better social skills: Playing games and participating in team activities helps children make new friends, learn team-building skills and self-discipline.



The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

The World Health Organization,

Thunder Bay District Public Health,

Last modified on Jul 15, 2016