CMO's Physical Activity Guidelines - Update

UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines - September 2019

The new guidelines are presented following a life course approach with a separate chapter for the age groups covered in the report: Under-5s, Children and Young people (5-18 years), Adults (19-64 years), and Older Adults (65+). Each chapter includes an introduction, sets out the guidelines for that age group, summarises the evidence to support the new guidelines, and outlines any changes made since 2011.

Children and Young People (5 to 18 years) 

Children and young people should engage in modertate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week 

The review of evidence indicated that it would be helpful to change this guideline to an average of at least 60 minutes of MVPA per day. This was because the current evidence base does not support a specific minimum daily threshold of 60 minutes of MVPA for health benefits. Current studies have broadly used an average of 60 minutes per day to assess the benefits of physical activity on health outcomes.

Children and young people should engage in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscular fitness, and bone strength 

The review of the evidence found broad support for health benefits of vigorous intensity physical activity and activities that would strengthen bone being undertaken by children and young people but found no strong evidence for specific numbers or durations of bouts of moderate-to-vigorous or vigorous intensity physical activity per day.  The current evidence, does, however, suggest that developing a broader, more diverse range of movement skills, providing variety in the types of physical activity that children and young people engage in, is likely to be beneficial, although more high-quality evidence in this area is required (30, 32). The evidence therefore supports a guideline advocating a range of different types and intensities of physical activity across the week, in order to develop movement skills, muscular fitness, and bone strength. 

Children and young people should aim to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary, and when physically possible should break up long periods of not moving with at least light physical activity 

In relation to sedentary time, the review of the evidence base highlighted that there is little evidence to suggest modification of the previous guidelines, other than adding a statement recommending that young people reduce periods of inactivity, and replace these with a variety of activities, including light as well as MVPA. This clarification has therefore been made to the wording of the previous guidelines.


Anna Clooke

Anna Clooke
Partnership Leader

Telephone: 07731 471023
Mobile: 07731 471023
Email: [email protected]

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