Promoting Fundamental Movement Skill Development and Physical Activity in Early Childhood Settings: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of Wollongong
  • | 2 Deakin University
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The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of a physical activity program for preschool children. A 20-week, 2-arm parallel cluster randomized controlled pilot trial was conducted. The intervention comprised structured activities for children and professional development for staff. The control group participated in usual care activities, which included designated inside and outside playtime. Primary outcomes were movement skill development and objectively measured physical activity. At follow-up, compared with children in the control group, children in the intervention group showed greater improvements in movement skill proficiency, with this improvement statically significant for overall movement skill development (adjust diff. = 2.08, 95% CI 0.76, 3.40; Cohen’s d = 0.47) and significantly greater increases in objectively measured physical activity (counts per minute) during the preschool day (adjust diff. = 110.5, 95% CI 33.6, 187.3; Cohen’s d = 0.46). This study demonstrates that a physical activity program implemented by staff within a preschool setting is feasible, acceptable and potentially efficacious.

Jones, Riethmuller, Trezise, and Okely are with the Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia. Hesketh is with the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Australia. Batterham is with the Dept. of Mathematics and Applied Statistics, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.