This study investigated the impact of renovation and redesign of a university preschool’s outdoor space on children’s sedentary behavior, light activity, and moderate-to-vigorous-physical-activity (MVPA) during unstructured recess. Physical activity was measured by accelerometry and direct observation in two independent samples of 50 (baseline) and 57 (postintervention) children (Mage=4.4 yrs ± 0.5). Controlling for gender, age, BMI and recess length, observational data, but not accelerometry, revealed a significant decrease in intervals spent sedentary (-26.5%) and increases in light physical activity (+11.6%) and MVPA (+14.9%). Higher levels of MVPA were associated with specific environmental changes (new looping cycle path, OR = 2.18; increased playground open space, OR = 7.62; and new grass hill, OR = 3.27). Decreased sedentary behavior and increased light activity and MVPA may be realized with environmental changes that promote continuous and novel movement experiences in more expansive spaces.
Nicaise, Kahan, and Reuben are with the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA and Sallis is with the Dept. of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Nicaise is with the Centre for Research and Innovation in Sport, University of Lyon 1-Claude Bernard, France. Sallis is with the Dept. of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD, LaJolla, CA.