In-school and Out-of-school Physical Activity in Preschool Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $119.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $159.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $227.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $302.00


Little is known about the relationship between children’s physical activity (PA) in preschool (in-school) and outside of preschool (out-of-school). This study described this relationship.


Participants were 341 children (4.6 ± 0.3 years) in 16 preschools. Accelerometers measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and total physical activity (TPA) in-school and out-of-school. In the full sample, Pearson correlation was used to describe associations between in-school and out-of-school PA. In addition, children were categorized as meeting or not meeting a PA guideline during school. MVPA and TPA were compared between the 2 groups and in-school and out-of-school using 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance.


In the full sample, in-school and out-of-school PA were positively correlated for MVPA (r = .13, P = .02) and TPA (r = .15, P = .01). Children who met the guideline in-school remained comparably active out-of-school. However, those who did not meet the guideline were more active out-of-school than in-school. The groups were active at comparable levels while out-of-school. Identical patterns were seen for MVPA and TPA.


Children’s in-school PA was positively associated with out-of-school PA. Children who did not meet the guideline in-school were more active out-of-school than in-school, suggesting preschool and classroom factors may reduce some children’s PA in-school.

O’Neill, Dowda, and Pate are with the Dept of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Pfeiffer is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.