Intended outcomes

The intended outcomes of the programme are to ensure that children aged 4 to 16 eligible for free school meals:

  • eat more healthily over the school holidays
  • are more active during the school holidays
  • take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing along with their wider educational attainment
  • are safe and not socially isolated
  • have a greater knowledge of health and nutrition
  • are more engaged with school and other local services

“Physical activity is the single most important thing to do to improve your mental and physical health”

Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England January 2021

We expect all providers who are funded through the HAF programme to meet our framework of standards. 

‘Physical activities: clubs must provide activities which meet the Physical Activity Guidelines on a daily basis’.

What are the Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Young People in the UK? (5 to 18 years old)

  • Children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week. This can include all forms of activity such as physical education, active travel, after-school activities, play and sports.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The infographic on the next page summarises the Chief Medical Officers ‘Physical Activity Guidelines ’for you to share with staff, the young people and families that are attending your sessions. It would be great to have this infographic up at your sessions to promote the ‘Active 60 Minutes’ message.

Move more, sit less

Physical activity for children and young people between 5 and 18

Physical activity:

  • builds confidence and social skills
  • develops co-ordination
  • improves concentration and learning
  • strengthens muscles and bones
  • improves health and fitness
  • improves sleep
  • makes you feel good

Be physically active

Spread activity throughout the day. All activities should make you breathe faster and feel warmer. Aim for an average of one hour a day across the week.

Activities to develop movement skills, and muscle and bone strength across the week:

  • play
  • run or walk
  • bike
  • active travel
  • swim
  • skate
  • sport
  • PE
  • skip
  • climb
  • workout
  • dance

Get strong. Reduce inactivity, Move more.

Find ways to help all children and young people accumulate an average of at least 60 minutes physical activity per day across the week.

Defining moderate to vigorous activity

Moderate intensity activities (e.g. brisk walking, cycling, riding a scooter, playing) make us breathe faster, our heart rate increases, and we begin to feel warm. We are usually able to talk but not sing while doing them.

Vigorous intensity activities (e.g. running, swimming fast, competitive sport like playing football, netball) require a large amount of effort, resulting in a much faster heart rate and rapid breathing. They usually make it difficult for us to talk without pausing.

Activities that strengthen muscle and bone

Examples of activities that strengthen muscle and bone, including walking, running jumping, hopping, skipping, and cycling.

For older young people activities like circuit training, pliates, yoga, ball games and racquet sports are also good examples.

Movement skills can be developed by activities focused on fundamental movement skills.

  • Agility – Movement on our feet – change of direction & speed.
  • Balance – Hopping, jumping, balance on different surfaces.
  • Co-ordination – Throwing, catching, sending & receiving skills.

Physical activity can strengthen our muscles by using all of our major muscle groups during the activity and our bones, by stimulating bone growth and repair.

Benefits physical activity

Physical Health Benefits

  • Regular moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity strengthens the heart muscle.
  • As the heart and lungs grow stronger and more efficient, the body can be more active for longer
  • Helps build muscles to make people stronger and faster
  • Improve balance and coordination to perform tasks, such as balancing, catching and throwing
  • Strengthen bones, as bones are living tissue and respond to physical activity by becoming stronger
  • Maintain a healthy weight when combined with a healthy diet.

Mental Health Benefits

  • Improves mood, through the release of hormones (endorphins) in the brain which can produce a sense of wellbeing and reduce negative moods
  • Aid concentrations, attention span and cognitive function (our mental abilities) through increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and by causing new brain cell growth
  • Improve academic achievement through better brain performance
  • Increase self-esteem and enable people to feel more confident in their abilities and appearance
  • Improve sleep due to physical tiredness and the release of chemicals in the brain that aid sleep
  • Build resilience within ourselves, e.g. learning how to persevere to complete a task
  • Support and reinforce friendships (e.g. walking with friends, being on a team).

Talk about these benefits with the group. How they feel when they take part in physical activity?

How you can get an active 60 minutes into your 4 hour HAF daily session

60 minutes of physical activity doesn’t have to be all in one go. You can deliver the activity in bitesize 10 minute chunks for example and spread these throughout the session.

  • Think about your timetable for the day.
  • If you’re not providing a physical activity or sport session plan in ‘physical activity breaks’.   
  • Always think how can we break up times of ‘sedentary’ (inactive) activity with active breaks
  • Use an Active 60 Minute planner like the Active for Life 60 minute challenge to help you and the group visualise ‘60 Active minutes’.
  • Active Free Play - making an Obstacle Course, Den Building, Outdoor Adventurous Activities, Gardening all count as physical activity. Could you partner up with another organisation to provider sport or physical activity sessions?
  • Think about different activities that the group might not have tried before like Yoga, Dance, Fitness based sessions for example.
  • Active Breaks – 10 minute Disney shake ups NHS Change for Life resources. There are also lot of other inclusive ideas on the Change for Life webpage.
  • Daily Mile Fit for Life –This is about including 15 minutes of self paced walking into the daily routine. Could you add in a daily wellbeing walk around the school field / local area for example? 
  • Active Travel – how are the children & young people travelling to the venue? Could you encourage more people to walk, bike or scoot. This all counts towards their Active 60 minutes. For ideas and further information take a look at the council's School Travels Team SMILE project.