The Norwegian Directorate of Health now believes that children under the age of two should be kept off screen, and that those up to the age of five should get a maximum of one hour of screen time per day.
An important point for us is that the monitor should not be used as a babysitter, because placing children in front of the monitor so that they are passively for a longer period of time is not helpful, health director Bjørn Guldvog tells NTB.
On Monday, the Norwegian Directorate of Health introduced new advice on physical activity and sitting still. It is based on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) 2019 And 2020 but it adapts somewhat to the Norwegian context.
One of the new things is that the Norwegian Directorate of Health now fully advises that children under the age of two should not use a screen in front of a screen. At the same time, they say that daily screen time for children aged two to five years should be limited to one hour, and that the less screen time, the better for children.
Guldvog stresses that the Norwegian Directorate of Health does not think it is harmful to spend a little time in front of children in front of screens. He also recognizes that screens can help provide children with digital skills and learning.
The point here is that there has to be a balance. For two- to five-year-olds, it’s best to emphasize that they should be physically active and have social contact, says Guldvog.
For children and young adults who are a little older, the directorate especially recommends limiting passive screen time at leisure.
Three hours of physical activity a day
It is also new that the Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that children aged one to five years engage in three hours of physical activity per day. In the past, the general advice was that all children and young adults should be physically active for at least one hour a day.
Since most young children spend most of their time awake on weekdays in kindergarten, much of the responsibility for achieving physical activity goals lies with the staff here.
– Our impression is that kindergartens are good at activating children through play and physical development. Thus, in many cases, young children are already heeding this advice, Goldfog says.
Less physically active as they get older
For those aged 6-17, the advice is still one hour of physical activity per day.
A public health report submitted to the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), released last year, shows that the older children get, the lower the proportion meeting physical activity recommendations:
Among 6-year-olds, 87 percent of girls and 94 percent of boys are active enough.
Among 9-year-olds, 64 percent of girls and 81 percent of boys are active enough.
Among 15-year-olds, 40 percent of girls and 51 percent of boys are active enough.
Every activity is important
Adults are still much worse at doing physical activity. According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 30 percent of adults meet recommendations for physical activity.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health is now providing new advice that all activities matter. This means that low-intensity physical activity, and activities that are perceived as light, are also important for health.
This is probably the most important new piece of advice we’re coming out with right now. It’s now clear that just getting up and walking a bit down the aisle or moving around a bit is important for health. You don’t need at least ten minutes of dedicated training to get a healthy effect. So for those looking for the little gain, it’s important to say it’s there, too, says Guldvog.
—If you look at the difference from being completely inactive to moving a little, that’s where the biggest health benefit lies, he says.
We recommend strength training twice a week
However, the agency recommends that adults do at least 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity per week with moderate intensity, or at least 75 to 150 minutes with high activity, or a combination of moderate and high intensity. Part of this recommendation is strength training twice a week.
What can adults do in daily life to be able to meet advice about physical activity?
Make it a routine to exercise or be physically active on days when you don’t have afternoon and evening appointments. You should strength-train large muscle groups two days a week, balance, but not necessarily be in the gym. You can also walk or bike to work.
Are you meeting the recommendations for physical activity yourself?
– Yes, I may fulfill our own advice. I am active for at least an hour a day, often in a simple way by going for an evening walk with my wife or something similar. In addition, I cycle to work.
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