Top doctors release new physical activity guidelines

New guidance published by the UK’s top doctors advises adults to do muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week along with aerobic exercise, to help people stay active for longer.

The guidelines are designed to aid health professionals and others to provide individuals and communities with information on the type and amount of physical activity that they should undertake to improve their health.

The report underlines the importance of all age groups participating in a range of different activities. It also highlights the additional benefit of balance and flexibility exercises for older adults.

As well as this, it highlights the risk of inactivity and sedentary behaviour for health.


What do the guidelines recommend?



  • Infants – 30 mins of tummy time – when the baby is on its front – for infants not yet mobile every day
  • Toddlers – 180 minutes per day doing active play
  • Pre-schoolers – 180 minutes per day of physical activity, including at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise

5-18-year olds

  • At least one hour of moderate to physical activity per day across the week, such as PE, active travel, after-school activities and sport
  • Develop muscle fitness and bone strength
  • Minimise time spent being sedentary

19-64-year olds

  • Aim to be physically active every day
  • Develop or maintain strength of muscles by doing heavy gardening, carrying heavy shopping or resistance exercise – 2 days a week
  • At least 150 minutes of activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running each week
  • Minimise time spent being sedentary – break up long periods of inactivity

Over 65s

  • Some physical activity is better than none
  • On two days a week, activity to improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility, including Tai Chi, dance, bowls and aqua-aerobics
  • Each week, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, building up gradually
  • Break up prolonged periods of being sedentary with light activity when possible, at least with standing


Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said most children and adults in the UK aren’t active enough.

“We need more active travel, we need people to get off the bus or the tube a stop early.

“We need people to climb stairs instead of getting in a lift…

“We need to be more active.”

Regular physical activity provides a range of physical and mental health benefits. These include reducing the risk of disease, managing existing conditions, and developing and maintaining physical and mental function.

To read the full report, click here.



Text References

BBC News. (2019). Strengthen muscles as well as heart to stay fit and healthy, say top doctors. Accessible: Last Accessed: 13 September 2019.

Department of Health and Social Care. (2019). Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers’ report. Accessible: Last Accessed: 13 September 2019.