Feasibility of Integrating Physical Activity Into Early Education Learning Standards on Preschooler’s Physical Activity Levels

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: For a health behavior intervention to be sustainable within preschool centers, the intervention should be implemented by classroom teachers. Unfortunately, teachers are constrained by demands such as meeting early childhood education standards. Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study was to examine the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of integrating a health behavior intervention into early education learning standards on physical activity (PA), diet, and sleep (PADS) behavior of preschoolers. Methods: Two preschool centers were randomized to either the PADS (children, n = 60) or the control (CON; children, n = 54) group. The PADS intervention consisted of PADS lesson plans and activities embedded into Massachusetts early learning standards and were implemented for 4 days per week for 12 weeks. The CON preschool participated in their usual curriculum. PA was assessed using accelerometers for 7 consecutive days at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. Other outcome variables were assessed with parental surveys at baseline and 12 weeks. Results: Significant group by time interactions were observed for moderate to vigorous PA (percentage of time) during the preschool day (PADS: baseline = 10.6% (4.2%), 12 wk = 13.2% (2.3%); CON: baseline = 12.4% (3.9%), 12 wk = 11.2% (3.6%); P = .02). Conclusion: This pilot study provides preliminary evidence that integrating health behaviors into learning standards is feasible and potentially an effective way for increasing preschoolers’ PA levels.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA.

Alhassan (alhassan@kin.umass.edu) is corresponding author.
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