A growing body of literature has confirmed the health benefits of regular physical activity in school-aged youth. However, less systematic attention has been directed toward establishing activity profiles and evaluating the impact of community-based interventions designed to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior in preschool children. In this paper, current findings are reviewed to determine whether preschoolers are achieving sufficient levels of structured and unstructured physical activity and to identify potential correlates of activity and sedentary behavior in the young child. In addition, promotion of physical activity among preschool-aged children in selected community settings is discussed and future research initiatives are highlighted. Given current trends in the overweight and obesity status of children aged two to five years, efforts aimed at increasing physical activity levels and documenting gains in health-related fitness and movement skillfulness in this pediatric population should be accelerated.
The author (NAK Fellow #481) is with the Dept. of Health and Human Performance, Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN.