The purpose of this study was to examine patterns of physical activity (PA) during a single weekend to ascertain possible relationships between PA and anthropometry, fundamental motor skills, and CHD risk factors among 105 normal male and female children, aged 3–4 years. The children played, when awake, on the average for 14 hr, 16 min indoors and for 5 hr, 12 min outdoors of which low activity playing accounted about 4 hr. Notable gender differences were observed in the intensity of PA but not in fundamental motor skills and CHD risk factors. The results suggest that physical activity is weakly related to fundamental motor skills and CHD risk factors at an early age. The association between PA and body size was modified by gender (p = .024): The girls who played indoors a lot were heavier than the others, and the boys who played much more outdoors were heavier in relation to other boys. The associations between PA and motor skills as well as PA and CHD risk factors were also highly gender-dependent: The boys benefited from interacting with parents, while the girls benefited from independence. The most influential factors seemed to be the amount of playing outdoors, the amount of high level play activities, as well as interaction with parents.
A. Sääkslahti and P. Numminen are with the Department of Physical Education at the University of Jyväskylä, FIN-40351 Jyväskylä, Finland. H. Niinikoski, L. Rask-Nissilä, J. Viikari, and I. Välimäki are with the Cardiorespiratory Research Unit at the University of Turku, Kiinamyllynkatu 10, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland. J. Tuominen is with the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Turku, Lemminkäisenkatu 1, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland.