Exercise and Physical Activity


Exercise doesn’t just have to be about getting your child to go swimming or running. Think about which activities your child enjoys more. Are there any day to day activities that you could turn into a fun form of exercise (that gets your heart rate up for 10 minutes or more at a time) for everyone to enjoy together?
Children playing on a field

It's important to let children try different things so they can find something they like. Try and understand which forms of exercise they enjoy. Encourage them to continue with these and look for further opportunities to develop their interest like joining a local team or an after school club. All forms of exercise and sport are great for a child. You should celebrate any progress or developments they make.

  • Children Under 5 can benefit from at least 3 hours of physical activity a day
  • Children of school age need a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Below are some of the ways in which you can encourage this within your family.

Need some ideas about which sports your child might like? The NHS Healthier Families website has more ideas and information about ways to try new sports or activities.

Ideas for keeping active

Doing sport is not only healthy for the body, it can have a great impact on confidence and well being. Above all it can be a lot of fun! It is important to support your child in trying out different sports and be encouraging whenever they start playing. Try and promote the feel good factor as much as possible.

10 Minute Shake Up Games: Change4Life and Disney have teamed up to bring you play along games inspired by your favourite Disney and Pixar characters. These 10 minute bursts of fun will really get your kids moving and count towards the 60 active minutes they need every day.

Jump at home: Play with these fun, simple indoor activities to keep your children entertained. If you have a garden you can set up fun activities outside which children will enjoy as well.

50 Things to do Before You're 5: Provides inspiration for parents and carers to connect with children through a range of activities, all designed to have a positive impact on learning and health.

Fun activities for indoors or outdoors

  • Play 'keep it up' with a balloon
  • Have a dance
  • Play catch with a bean bag
  • Plan an indoor or outdoor treasure hunt
  • Play musical statues
  • Play hide and seek
  • Read stories and sing songs that require actions in time with the words
  • Dance or jump to music
  • Make a den
  • Rough and tumble play is also fun, so only stop it if it seems unsafe. Physically active toddlers should be in a safe environment and supervised at all times


PE sessions will offer different sport types so listen to what your child has done each session and what they have particularly enjoyed. You can see if they would like to continue some of their favourite sports outside of school or you can find out if your school offers after school activities.  


Are you focused on getting your child to school as quickly as possible, for example by car? The walk to and from school is a simple form of exercise which can help your child (and you!) reach your 60 minutes of activity a day. Walking is a great form of exercise.

Using the community (Parks and green spaces)

Try and engage with other families in your neighbourhood and find out what activities they do. This could be a useful way to gain ideas whilst giving your children opportunities to make friends and partake in shared activities. Local authority websites have parks and free activities that are available. Through these links you can find parks and green spaces in your area search on this link: Healthy Hubs in Hertfordshire and Active Essex.

Useful Links and Services

Park Play offers people of all ages two hours of free, informal games and activities every Saturday morning in local parks and green spaces. The events are FREE to attend and run from 10:00 to 12:00 every Saturday. For more information on ParkPlay you can visit: East of England – ParkPlay (park-play.com)

Junior Park Runs- junior parkrun (sportinherts.org.uk

Daily Mile - The Daily Mile (sportinherts.org.uk)

NHS advice on Exercise as well as useful videos

Healthy Hubs in Hertfordshire

BBC Tiny Happy People active fun ideas

Essex Well-bieng Service

Active Essex - Move with us

Essex Child Management Service

Accessibility tools