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Simone A. Tomaz, Alessandra Prioreschi, Estelle D. Watson, Joanne A. McVeigh, Dale E. Rae, Rachel A. Jones and Catherine E. Draper

Overweight and obesity among preschool-aged children (3–5 y old) have become an increasing global concern. While the global prevalence of overweight and obesity among preschoolers is reported at 6.7%, 1 it is significantly higher in South African populations (22%), with more overweight and obesity

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Cory J. Greever, John Sirard and Sofiya Alhassan

Background:

The purpose of this study was to examine the temporal patterns of preschoolers’ physical activity (PA) levels during a typical outdoor free playtime.

Methods:

Baseline playtime accelerometer counts (4.3 ± 0.8 days) from 3 preschool PA intervention studies were used (n = 326 children, age = 4.0 ± 0.8 years). Data were collected using 15-second epochs and classified into sedentary, light, or moderate-tovigorous physical activity (MVPA). Patterns of change during playtime were analyzed using orthogonal polynomial comparisons.

Results:

For all ages, there was a U-shaped pattern of change for the percent of epochs classified as sedentary [F(1, 323) = 47.12, P < .001) and an inverted U-shaped pattern of change for the percent of epochs classified as MVPA [F(1,323) = 32.15, P < .001]. Age-stratified analyses indicated that the 3-year-olds maintained the decrease in sedentary time [F(2,323) = 6.408, P = .002] and the increase in MVPA [F(2,323) = 3.2, P = .04] to a greater extent than the 4- and 5-year-olds.

Conclusions:

Preschool children gradually became more active during the first 10 to 15 minutes of outdoor gross motor playtime and less active over the final 10 to 15 minutes of playtime. During the second half of playtime 3-year-olds maintained these changes to a greater degree than 4- and 5-year-olds.

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Russell R. Pate, Marsha Dowda, William H. Brown, Jonathan Mitchell and Cheryl Addy

Background:

It is known that children are more physically active outdoors than indoors. However, few previous studies have observed the time course for physical activity as young children transition from indoor to outdoor activities.

Methods:

Participants were 3- to 5-year-old children enrolled in the Children’s Activity and Movement in Preschool Study (CHAMPS). Trained observers used the Observational System for Recording Physical Activity in Children-Preschool Version (OSRAC-P) to record children’s physical activity levels over 20 minutes in outdoor settings. The 20-minute outdoor observational period began immediately following the transition from indoors to outdoors.

Results:

Children’s activity levels were moderately high at the time of transition and declined over the 20-minute observation period. Different patterns, however, were observed for boys and girls. Overall, boys were more active than girls. Boys’ activity levels declined in a linear fashion over the 20-minute period, while girls’ activity levels increased slightly, decreased, and then increased slightly again.

Conclusions:

These data indicate that physical activity levels decline with increased duration of outdoor play. The frequency and duration of outdoor play should be investigated for the purpose of optimizing physical activity levels.

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Vera Verbestel, Eveline Van Cauwenberghe, Valerie De Coen, Lea Maes, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij and Greet Cardon

In this study, physical activity (PA) was objectively measured in 213 Belgian preschoolers (Mage = 4.98, SD = .88 years) over 4 consecutive days including two weekend days. Within-day variability in PA showed a typical activity pattern during weekdays and weekend days. Weekdays clearly reflected a preschool attending day with more peaks and troughs than weekend days and after-school hours were characterized by a decrease in activity. Between-day variability in PA was identified in preschool girls above the age of four, suggesting that the lack of a structured preschool environment is already related with a decrease in PA in this sex-specific age group. The results of this study are informative for the development of future PA interventions and indicate that both the preschool and the home environment should be targeted in the promotion of preschoolers’ PA.

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Anders Grøntved, Grete Skøtt Pedersen, Lars Bo Andersen, Peter Lund Kristensen, Niels Christian Møller and Karsten Froberg

Independent associations between personal- and demographic characteristics and physical activity in 3–6 year old children attending preschool were identified in this study. Boys spent a larger proportion of the time on moderate-and-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; p < .001) and had a higher total physical activity level compared with girls (p < .001). The 3–4 year old children spent less time on MVPA and had a lower total physical activity level compared with both 4–5 (p < .01) and 5–6 year old children (p < .001). The individual preschool, gender and age of preschool children were strong predictors of physical activity (R2-total model=(0.36−0.39)) during preschool attendance.

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James H. Rimmer and Luke E. Kelly

The purpose of this pilot study was to descriptively evaluate the effects of three different programs on the development of gross motor skills of preschool children with learning disabilities (n = 29). No attempt was made to equate the groups or control for differences between the programs or instructional staff. Two of the programs were used by the respective schools to develop the gross motor skills of their audience. The programs were called occupational therapy (OT) (45–60 min/day, 5 days/week) and adapted physical education (APE) (30 min/day, 4 days/week). A third group was evaluated to determine whether maturational effects had any involvement in gross motor development. This group was called the noninstructional program (NIP) (30 min/day, 2 days/week) and was solely involved in free play. The programs were all in session for the entire school year (33–35 weeks). The results of the study revealed that the children in the APE program made more significant gains across objectives, and particularly on the qualitative measures, than did the children in the OT or NIP groups.

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Leigh M. Vanderloo, Olivia J. M. Martyniuk and Patricia Tucker

Background:

Although preschoolers’ physical activity in center-based childcare has received considerable attention, less is known regarding this group’s activity levels within home-based childcare. This review aimed to explore and synthesize the literature on preschoolers’ physical and sedentary activity levels in home-based childcare. Outdoor playtime was also examined to contribute to the understanding of preschoolers’ activity levels within this particular setting.

Methods:

Nine online databases were searched for peer-reviewed, English-language, primary studies that quantitatively measured physical and sedentary activity levels of preschoolers attending home-based childcare. Studies were excluded if they were nonprimary research, if they lacked a preschool-aged sample, if they did not quantitatively measure physical or sedentary activity, or if they took place in an ineligible environment.

Results:

Seven articles were included in this review; 3 had objective measures of activity levels, and 4 relied on nonobjective measures. Accelerometry data suggest that preschoolers’ average sedentary, moderate-to-vigorous, and total physical activity levels in home-based childcare ranged from 39.5 to 49.6, 1.8 to 9.7, and 10.4 to 33.8 min/hr, respectively. Outdoor playtime appears to be inconsistent in home-based childcare.

Conclusion:

Physical activity among preschoolers attending home-based childcare appears to be relatively low and widely varied. Sedentary time has received less attention in home-based childcare settings. Future research examining activity levels in this unique environment is warranted.

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Mareesa O’Dwyer, Stuart J. Fairclough, Nicola Diane Ridgers, Zoe Rebecca Knowles, Lawrence Foweather and Gareth Stratton

Background:

Identifying periods of the day which are susceptible to varying levels of physical activity (PA) may help identify key times to intervene and potentially change preschool children’s PA behaviors. This study assessed variability of objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during weekdays and weekend days among preschool children.

Methods:

One hundred and eighty-eight children (aged 3 to 5 years; 53.2% boys) from a northwest English city wore uni-axial accelerometers for 7 consecutive days.

Results:

Higher levels of MVPA were recorded in boys, particularly those who attended preschool for a half day. Children who attended preschool for a full day engaged in 11.1 minutes less MVPA than children who attended for a half day. After-school hours were characterized by a decrease in activity for all groups. Patterns of activity during the weekend were smoother with less variability.

Conclusion:

This study identified discrete segments of the week, specifically afterschool and during the weekend, when preschoolers engage in low levels of PA. Higher levels of MVPA among children who attended preschool for less time each day suggests that the structured preschool environment is related to decreased activity. Consequently, there is a need for interventions in young children to focus on school and home environments.

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Sofiya Alhassan, Ogechi Nwaokelemeh, Manneh Ghazarian, Jasmin Roberts, Albert Mendoza and Sanyog Shitole

This pilot study examined the effects of a teacher-taught, locomotor skill (LMS)- based physical activity (PA) program on the LMS and PA levels of minority preschooler-aged children. Eight low-socioeconomic status preschool classrooms were randomized into LMS-PA (LMS-oriented lesson plans) or control group (supervised free playtime). Interventions were delivered for 30 min/day, five days/week for six months. Changes in PA (accelerometer) and LMS variables were assessed with MANCOVA. LMS-PA group exhibited a significant reduction in during-preschool (F (1,16) = 6.34, p = .02, d = 0.02) and total daily (F (1,16) = 9.78, p = .01, d = 0.30) percent time spent in sedentary activity. LMS-PA group also exhibited significant improvement in leaping skills, F (1, 51) = 7.18, p = .01, d = 0.80). No other, significant changes were observed. The implementation of a teacher-taught, LMS-based PA program could potentially improve LMS and reduce sedentary time of minority preschoolers.

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Megan A. Kirk and Ryan E. Rhodes

Preschoolers with developmental delay (DD) are at risk for poor fundamental movement skills (FMS), but a paucity of early FMS interventions exist. The purpose of this review was to critically appraise the existing interventions to establish direction for future trials targeting preschoolers with DD. A total of 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. Major findings were summarized based on common subtopics of overall intervention effect, locomotor skill outcomes, object-control outcomes, and gender differences. Trials ranged from 8 to 24 weeks and offered 540–1700 min of instruction. The majority of trials (n = 9) significantly improved FMS of preschoolers with DD, with a large intervention effect (η2 = 0.57–0.85). This review supports the utility of interventions to improve FMS of preschoolers with DD. Future researchers are encouraged to include more robust designs, a theoretical framework, and involvement of parents and teachers in the delivery of the intervention.