Physical Activity Opportunities Within the Schedule of Early Care and Education Centers

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $115.00

1 year subscription

USD  $153.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $218.00

2 year subscription

USD  $285.00

Background: Physical activity has many benefits for young children’s health and overall development, but few studies have investigated how early care and education centers allot time for physical activity, along with measured individual physical activity levels for indoor/outdoor activities during a typical day. Methods: Fifty early care and education centers in central North Carolina participated in 4 full-day observations, and 559 children aged 3–5 years within centers wore accelerometers assessing physical activity during observation days. Observation and physical activity data were linked and analyzed for associations between child activity and type of classroom activity. Results: Children averaged 51 (13) minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and 99 (18) minutes per day of light physical activity while in child care. Children averaged 6 (10) and 10 (13) minutes per day of observed outdoor and indoor daily teacher-led physical activity, respectively. Outdoor time averaged 67 (49) minutes per day, and physical activity levels were higher during outdoor time than during common indoor activities (center time, circle time, and TV time). Conclusions: Physical activity levels varied between indoor and outdoor class activities. Policy and program-related efforts to increase physical activity in preschoolers should consider these patterns to leverage opportunities to optimize physical activity within early care and education centers.

Mazzucca, Hales, Ammerman, Tate, and Ward are with the Dept of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Evenson is with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Berry is with the School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

Mazzucca (mazzucca@unc.edu) is corresponding author.
  • 1.

    Day RS, Fulton JE, Dai S, Mihalopoulos NL, Barradas DT. Nutrient intake, physical activity, and CVD risk factors in children: project HeartBeat! Am J Prev Med. 2009;37(suppl 1):25–33. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.04.006

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Gidding SS, Barton BA, Dorgan JA, et al. Higher self-reported physical activity is associated with lower systolic blood pressure: the Dietary Intervention Study in Childhood (DISC). Pediatrics. 2006;118(6):2388–2393. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1785

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    LeBlanc AG, Spence JC, Carson V, et al. Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in the early years (aged 0–4 years). Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012;37(4):753–772. PubMed doi:10.1139/h2012-063

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Saakslahti A, Numminen P, Varstala V, et al. Physical activity as a preventive measure for coronary heart disease risk factors in early childhood. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2004;14(3):143–149. PubMed doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2004.00347.x

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Burgi F, Meyer U, Granacher U, et al. Relationship of physical activity with motor skills, aerobic fitness and body fat in preschool children: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study (Ballabeina). Int J Obes. 2011;35(7):937–944. doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.54

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Institute of Medicine. Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.

  • 7.

    Koplan K, Liverman C, Kraak V, eds. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth; 2005.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Moore LL, Gao D, Bradlee ML, et al. Does early physical activity predict body fat change throughout childhood? Prev Med. 2003;37(1):10–17. PubMed doi:10.1016/S0091-7435(03)00048-3

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Cliff DP, Okely AD, Smith LM, McKeen K. Relationships between fundamental movement skills and objectively measured physical activity in preschool children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2009;21(4):436–449. PubMed doi:10.1123/pes.21.4.436

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Fisher A, Reilly JJ, Kelly LA, et al. Fundamental movement skills and habitual physical activity in young children. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(4):684–688. PubMed doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000159138.48107.7D

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Jones RA, Okely AD, Hinkley T, Batterham M, Burke C. Promoting gross motor skills and physical activity in childcare: a translational randomized controlled trial. J Sci Med Sport. 2016;19(9):744–749. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2015.10.006

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Wrotniak BH, Epstein LH, Dorn JM, Jones KE, Kondilis VA. The relationship between motor proficiency and physical activity in children. Pediatrics. 2006;118(6):e1758–e1765. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2006-0742

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Janz KF, Burns TL, Levy SM. Tracking of activity and sedentary behaviors in childhood: the Iowa Bone Development Study. Am J Prev Med. 2005;29(3):171–178. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2005.06.001

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Janz KF, Burns TL, Torner JC, et al. Physical activity and bone measures in young children: the Iowa Bone Development Study. Pediatrics. 2001;107(6):1387–1393. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.107.6.1387

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Specker B, Binkley T. Randomized trial of physical activity and calcium supplementation on bone mineral content in 3- to 5-year-old children. J Bone Miner Res. 2003;18(5):885–892. PubMed doi:10.1359/jbmr.2003.18.5.885

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Specker B, Binkley T, Fahrenwald N. Increased periosteal circumference remains present 12 months after an exercise intervention in preschool children. Bone. 2004;35(6):1389–1398. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.bone.2004.09.005

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Friedlander SL, Larkin EK, Rosen CL, Palermo TM, Redline S. Decreased quality of life associated with obesity in school-aged children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(12):1206–1211. PubMed doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.12.1206

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    Hesketh K, Wake M, Waters E. Body mass index and parent-reported self-esteem in elementary school children: evidence for a causal relationship. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004;28(10):1233–1237. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802624

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Krukowski RA, West DS, Philyaw Perez A, Bursac Z, Phillips MM, Raczynski JM. Overweight children, weight-based teasing and academic performance. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2009;4(4):274–280. PubMed doi:10.3109/17477160902846203

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Zeller MH, Saelens BE, Roehrig H, Kirk S, Daniels SR. Psychological adjustment of obese youth presenting for weight management treatment. Obes Res. 2004;12(10):1576–1586. PubMed doi:10.1038/oby.2004.197

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Cohen AK, Rai M, Rehkopf DH, Abrams B. Educational attainment and obesity: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2013;14:989–1005.

  • 22.

    Datar A, Sturm R, Magnabosco JL. Childhood overweight and academic performance: national study of kindergartners and first-graders. Obes Res. 2004;12(1):58–68. PubMed doi:10.1038/oby.2004.9

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Diamond A. Activities and programs that improve children’s executive functions. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2012;21(5):335–341. PubMed doi:10.1177/0963721412453722

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Larson N, Ward DS, Neelon SB, Story M. What role can child-care settings play in obesity prevention? A review of the evidence and call for research efforts. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(9):1343–1362. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.jada.2011.06.007

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. National Physical Activity Plan. 2016. http://www.physicalactivityplan.org/docs/2016NPAP_Finalforwebsite.pdf. Accessed date January 4, 2017.

    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    Story M, Kaphingst KM, French S. The role of child care settings in obesity prevention. Future Child. 2006;16(1):143–168. PubMed doi:10.1353/foc.2006.0010

  • 27.

    Mamedova S, Redford J. Early Childhood Program Participation, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-029). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education; 2013.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Iruka I, Carver P. Initial Results From the 2005 NEHS Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (NCES 2006075). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education; 2006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education; 2011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children Birth to Five Years. 2nd ed. Reston, VA: National Association for Sport and Physical Education; 2009.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Beets MW, Bornstein D, Dowda M, Pate RR. Compliance with national guidelines for physical activity in U.S. preschoolers: measurement and interpretation. Pediatrics. 2011;127(4):658–664. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2021

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Hinkley T, Salmon J, Okely AD, Crawford D, Hesketh K. Preschoolers’ physical activity, screen time, and compliance with recommendations. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(3):458–465. PubMed doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318233763b

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Oliver M, Schofield GM, Kolt GS. Physical activity in preschoolers: understanding prevalence and measurement issues. Sports Med. 2007;37(12):1045–1070. PubMed doi:10.2165/00007256-200737120-00004

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34.

    Pate RR, O’Neill JR, Brown WH, Pfeiffer KA, Dowda M, Addy CL. Prevalence of compliance with a new physical activity guideline for preschool-age children. Child Obes. 2015;11(4):415–420. PubMed doi:10.1089/chi.2014.0143

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    Pate RR, Pfeiffer KA, Trost SG, Ziegler P, Dowda M. Physical activity among children attending preschools. Pediatrics. 2004;114(5):1258–1263. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2003-1088-L

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Reilly JJ. Low levels of objectively measured physical activity in preschoolers in child care. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(3):502–507. PubMed doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cea100

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Bower JK, Hales DP, Tate DF, Rubin DA, Benjamin SE, Ward DS. The childcare environment and children’s physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2008;34(1):23–29. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.022

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Dowda M, Brown WH, McIver KL, et al. Policies and characteristics of the preschool environment and physical activity of young children. Pediatrics. 2009;123(2):e261–e266. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2498

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39.

    O’Neill JR, Pfeiffer KA, Dowda M, Pate RR. In-school and out-of-school physical activity in preschool children. J Phys Act Health. 2016;13(6):606–610. doi:10.1123/jpah.2015-0245

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40.

    Pate RR, O’Neill JR, Byun W, McIver KL, Dowda M, Brown WH. Physical activity in preschool children: comparison between Montessori and traditional preschools. J Sch Health. 2014;84(11):716–721. PubMed doi:10.1111/josh.12207

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41.

    Tandon PS, Saelens BE, Christakis DA. Active play opportunities at child care. Pediatrics. 2015;135(6):e1425–e1431. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2750

  • 42.

    Ward DS, Mazzucca S, McWilliams C, Hales D. Use of the environment and policy evaluation and observation as a self-report instrument (EPAO-SR) to measure nutrition and physical activity environments in child care settings: validity and reliability evidence. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015;12:124. PubMed doi:10.1186/s12966-015-0287-0

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43.

    Ward D, Hales D, Haverly K, et al. An instrument to assess the obesogenic environment of child care centers. Am J Health Behav. 2008;32(4):380–386. PubMed doi:10.5993/AJHB.32.4.5

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 44.

    Benjamin Neelon SE, Taveras EM, Ostbye T, Gillman MW. Preventing obesity in infants and toddlers in child care: results from a pilot randomized controlled trial. Matern Child Health J. 2014;18(5):1246–1257. PubMed doi:10.1007/s10995-013-1359-x

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45.

    Gubbels JS, Kremers SP, van Kann DH, et al. Interaction between physical environment, social environment, and child characteristics in determining physical activity at child care. Health Psychol. 2011;30(1):84–90. PubMed doi:10.1037/a0021586

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 46.

    Gubbels JS, Van Kann DH, Jansen MW. Play equipment, physical activity opportunities, and children’s activity levels at childcare. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:1–8. PubMed doi:10.1155/2012/326520

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47.

    Lyn R, Maalouf J, Evers S, Davis J, Griffin M. Nutrition and physical activity in child care centers: the impact of a wellness policy initiative on Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation outcomes, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:E83. PubMed doi:10.5888/pcd10.120232

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 48.

    Tucker P, Vanderloo LM, Newnham-Kanas C, et al. Learning Environments’ Activity Potential for Preschoolers (LEAPP): study rationale and design. J Public Health Res. 2013;2(2):19. PubMed doi:10.4081/jphr.2013.e19

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 49.

    Vanderloo LM, Tucker P, Johnson AM, van Zandvoort MM, Burke SM, Irwin JD. The influence of centre-based childcare on preschoolers’ physical activity levels: a cross-sectional study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):1794–1802. PubMed doi:10.3390/ijerph110201794

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50.

    Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(1):181–188. PubMed doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31815a51b3

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 51.

    Pate RR, Almeida MJ, McIver KL, Pfeiffer KA, Dowda M. Validation and calibration of an accelerometer in preschool children. Obesity. 2006;14(11):2000–2006. doi:10.1038/oby.2006.234

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52.

    Evenson KR, Catellier DJ, Gill K, Ondrak KS, McMurray RG. Calibration of two objective measures of physical activity for children. J Sports Sci. 2008;26(14):1557–1565. PubMed doi:10.1080/02640410802334196

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53.

    LaRowe TL, Tomayko EJ, Meinen AM, Hoiting J, Saxler C, Cullen B. Active early: one-year policy intervention to increase physical activity among early care and education programs in Wisconsin. BMC Public Health. 2016;16:607. PubMed doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3198-3

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 54.

    Boldemann C, Blennow M, Dal H, et al. Impact of preschool environment upon children’s physical activity and sun exposure. Prev Med. 2006;42(4):301–308. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2005.12.006

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 55.

    Olesen LG, Kristensen PL, Korsholm L, Froberg K. Physical activity in children attending preschools. Pediatrics. 2013;132(5):e1310–e1318. PubMed doi:10.1542/peds.2012-3961

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 56.

    Cardon G, Van Cauwenberghe E, Labarque V, Haerens L, De Bourdeaudhuij I. The contribution of preschool playground factors in explaining children’s physical activity during recess. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2008;5:11. PubMed doi:10.1186/1479-5868-5-11

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 57.

    Pate RR, Dowda M, Brown WH, Mitchell J, Addy C. Physical activity in preschool children with the transition to outdoors. J Phys Act Health. 2013;10(2):170–175. PubMed doi:10.1123/jpah.10.2.170

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58.

    Pate RR, Brown WH, Pfeiffer KA, et al. An intervention to increase physical activity in children: a randomized controlled trial with 4-year-olds in preschools. Am J Prev Med. 2016;51:12–22. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.12.003

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 59.

    Trost SG, Fees B, Dzewaltowski D. Feasibility and efficacy of a “move and learn” physical activity curriculum in preschool children. J Phys Act Health. 2008;5(1):88–103. PubMed doi:10.1123/jpah.5.1.88

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 60.

    Pramling Samuelsson I, Johansson E. Play and learning—inseparable dimensions in preschool practice. Early Child Dev Care. 2006;176(1):47–65. doi:10.1080/0300443042000302654

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 61.

    Samuelsson IP, Carlsson MA. The playing learning child: towards a pedagogy of early childhood. Scand J Educ Res. 2008;52(6):623–641. doi:10.1080/00313830802497265

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 62.

    Trost SG, Pate RR, Sallis JF, et al. Age and gender differences in objectively measured physical activity in youth. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(2):350–355. PubMed doi:10.1097/00005768-200202000-00025

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 63.

    Wang YC, Orleans CT, Gortmaker SL. Reaching the healthy people goals for reducing childhood obesity: closing the energy gap. Am J Prev Med. 2012;42(5):437–444. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.01.018

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 300 300 34
Full Text Views 10 10 1
PDF Downloads 10 10 2