Calibration and Evaluation of an Objective Measure of Physical Activity in Preschool Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purposes of this study were 1) to establish accelerometer count cutoffs to categorize activity intensity of 3 to 5-y old-children and 2) to evaluate the accelerometer as a measure of children’s physical activity in preschool settings.


While wearing an ActiGraph accelerometer, 16 preschool children performed five, 3-min structured activities. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analyses identified count cutoffs for four physical activity intensities. In 9 preschools, 281 children wore an ActiGraph during observations performed by three trained observers (interobserver reliability = 0.91 to 0.98).


Separate count cutoffs for 3, 4, and 5-y olds were established. Sensitivity and specificity for the count cutoffs ranged from 86.7% to 100.0% and 66.7% to 100.0%, respectively. ActiGraph counts/15 s were different among all activities (P < 0.05) except the two sitting activities. Correlations between observed and ActiGraph intensity categorizations at the preschools ranged from 0.46 to 0.70 (P < 0.001).


The ActiGraph count cutoffs established and validated in this study can be used to objectively categorize the time that preschool-age children spend in different physical activity intensity levels.

Sirard, Pfeiffer, Dowda, and Pate are with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; Sirard is also with the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. Trost is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Community Health Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.