Manifesto warns that most toddlers need more exercise – but physios could help

Physiotherapists should start a dialogue with their local nursery schools about how they can help young children to be more physically active.


Only nine per cent of children meet the chief medical officer's recommendations on physical activity

That is the advice from CSP professional adviser Stuart Palma, whose comments follow the publication of a British Heart Foundation (BHF) document.

This says that a mere nine per cent of children aged from two to four years meet the chief medical officer for England's recommendations on physical activity.

The recommendations state that

  • physical activity should be encouraged from birth, through floor-based play and water-based activities
  • children under five, who are capable of walking, should be physically active for at least three hours each day
  • all under-fives should minimise extended periods of sitting or time spent being sedentary

The BHF manifesto for early years physical activity, The Best Start in Life, is intended as a call to policymakers to ensure that schools and other early years settings are designed to stimulate physical activity.

It suggests that health professionals should track the physical activity levels of young children. The results should be shared with parents, along with support to help them increase physical activity levels.

Mr Palma said evidence pointed to how exercise can increase brain development, attainment, social and emotional wellbeing and reduce obesity. It was time for physio staff to act on this, he noted.

‘Equipped with the appropriate skills and expertise, we can have a big impact on the physical activity levels of this “generation inactive”.

‘There is a real opportunity to make a difference.’

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