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  • Author: Connie L. Tompkins x
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Connie L. Tompkins, Timothy Flanagan, John Lavoie II and David W. Brock


Compared with structured/organized activities, unstructured, self-selected physical activity (PA) may be more appealing for children in particular obese (OB) children. We examined whether both healthy-weight (HW) and OB children would engage in moderate to vigorous intensity PA during an unstructured PA program and compared heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) between the children.


Twenty-one children [9 OB (≥95th BMI percentile, 12 HW (5th – <85th), 8.6 ± 0.8 years; 9 males, 12 females] participated in before-school (7:30 AM to 8:15 AM) PA for 18 weeks, 3 consecutive days/week. Each child wore a Polar E600 HR monitor and was provided a vigorous, age-targeted heart rate (THR) of 70%.


Mean HR ≥ vigorous THR for all children in 65.3% of the sessions and exceeded moderate intensity in 100%. Over the 18-weeks, no significant difference was observed in the overall mean HR between the HW (171.4 ± 12.0) and OB (169.3 ± 13.0), however the OB reported significantly lower RPEs than the HW (16.9 ± 2.6 vs. 17.6 ± 1.5, respectively; P < .05).


Both the HW and OB children consistently sustained PA of moderate and vigorous intensity. The current study provides insight regarding the physiological capabilities and perceptual responses of HW and OB children participating in PA programs.

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Connie L. Tompkins, Erin K. Shoulberg, Lori E. Meyer, Caroline P. Martin, Marissa Dennis, Allison Krasner and Betsy Hoza

Background: According to the US Institute of Medicine guideline, preschool-aged children should participate in ≥15 minutes of physical activity (PA) per hour or 3 hours per day over 12 hours. Examinations of PA guideline compliance to date averaged time spent in PA over several days; however, children could exceed the guideline on some days and not on others. Therefore, this cross-sectional study examined PA guideline compliance in preschool children based on number of minutes per hour (average method) and percentage of days the guideline was met (everyday method). Methods: PA was measured by accelerometry during the preschool day for up to 10 days in 177 children (59.3% males, M age = 4.23). Minutes per hour and percentage of time in light, moderate to vigorous, and total PAs were calculated. Percentage of days in compliance was determined by number of days in compliance (defined as the child active on average ≥15 min/h) divided by total accelerometer days. Results: Children engaged in PA, on average, 17.01 minutes per hour, suggesting that on average, children are meeting the guideline. However, children were only in compliance with the PA guideline 62.41% of assessment days. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate the importance of examining compliance with both the average and everyday methods to more accurately portray level of Institute of Medicine PA guideline compliance.