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First physical activity guidelines published for disabled children and young people

Many activities are beneficial for muscle strength and motor skills (Image: Sport England)

Disabled children and young people should be getting 20 minutes of exercise a day – including strength and balance activities three times a week. The recommendation comes from new guidance issued by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs).

The guidelines, which are the first of their kind for disabled children and young people, have been designed to support the improvement of physical and mental health throughout life. Published this month, the guidelines are underpinned by research from Durham University, the University of Bristol and Disability Rights UK.

Recommendations include that disabled children should undertake 120-180 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity. This can be achieved in different ways – such as 20 minutes per day or 40 minutes, three times per week.

The guidance also calls for challenging, but manageable, strength and balance activities – such as indoor wall climbing, yoga, and modified sports such as basketball or football – three times per week, which are particularly beneficial for muscle strength and motor skills.

The guidelines have been welcomed by the physical activity industry. Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “The guidance is a very welcome step in acknowledging the positive role that regular physical activity is as beneficial for disabled children and young people as it is for other children.

“Our own research shows that providing children and young people with positive experiences of sport and physical activity is key to building healthy habits, and we know that disabled young people who are regularly active live healthier, happier lives.

“Every disabled child and young person has the right to be active. We recommend that anyone with a role in helping children and young people get active reads this guidance.”

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