New government guidelines released today say that children under five should exercise for at least three hours a day.

The report says that babies should go swimming and play on baby gym mats, while toddlers should be encouraged to walk to and from nursery.

The report has specific guidelines for the under fives for the first time.

Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, said: "Being active has enormous health and well being benefits. It protects against many of the biggest causes of early death like heart disease, and stroke, and can promote good mental health.

"The latest figures show that almost a quarter of adults are obese and on current trends by 2050 it means 9 in 10 adults will be overweight or obese. We know that more than 60 per cent of adults are not active enough which is why today the UK Chief Medical Officers are launching the first UK-wide guidelines that draw on the latest science to inform weekly levels of physical activity - whatever your age.

"But it's not just about health. Cycling and walking more can save on transport costs, reduce congestion and pollution."

Posted by Robert Mair on 11.7.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com 

 Child swimming