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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.

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Anne L. Adolph, Maurice R. Puyau, Firoz A. Vohra, Theresa A. Nicklas, Issa F. Zakeri and Nancy F. Butte

Purpose:

Given the unique physical activity (PA) patterns of preschoolers, wearable electronic devices for quantitative assessment of physical activity require validation in this population. Study objective was to validate uniaxial and triaxial accelerometers in preschoolers.

Methods:

Room calorimetry was performed over 3 hours in 64 preschoolers, wearing Actical, Actiheart, and RT3 accelerometers during play, slow, moderate, and fast translocation. Based on activity energy expenditure (AEE) and accelerometer counts, optimal thresholds for PA levels were determined by piecewise linear regression and discrimination boundary analysis.

Results:

Established HR cutoffs in preschoolers for sedentary/light, light/moderate and moderate/vigorous levels were used to define AEE (0.015, 0.054, 0.076 kcal·kg−1·min−1) and PA ratio (PAR; 1.6, 2.9, 3.6) thresholds, and accelerometer thresholds. True positive predictive rates were 77%, 75%, and 76% for sedentary; 63%, 61%, and 65% for light; 34%, 52%, and 49% for moderate; 46%, 46%, and 49% for vigorous levels. Due to low positive predictive rates, we combined moderate and vigorous PA. Classification accuracy was improved overall and for the combined moderate-to-vigorous PA level (69%, 82%, 79%) for Actical, Actiheart, and RT3, respectively.

Conclusion:

Uniaxial and triaxial accelerometers are acceptable devices with similar classification accuracy for sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous levels of PA in preschoolers.

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John R. Sirard, Stewart G. Trost, Karin A. Pfeiffer, Marsha Dowda and Russell R. Pate

Background:

The purposes of this study were 1) to establish accelerometer count cutoffs to categorize activity intensity of 3 to 5-y old-children and 2) to evaluate the accelerometer as a measure of children’s physical activity in preschool settings.

Methods:

While wearing an ActiGraph accelerometer, 16 preschool children performed five, 3-min structured activities. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analyses identified count cutoffs for four physical activity intensities. In 9 preschools, 281 children wore an ActiGraph during observations performed by three trained observers (interobserver reliability = 0.91 to 0.98).

Results:

Separate count cutoffs for 3, 4, and 5-y olds were established. Sensitivity and specificity for the count cutoffs ranged from 86.7% to 100.0% and 66.7% to 100.0%, respectively. ActiGraph counts/15 s were different among all activities (P < 0.05) except the two sitting activities. Correlations between observed and ActiGraph intensity categorizations at the preschools ranged from 0.46 to 0.70 (P < 0.001).

Conclusions:

The ActiGraph count cutoffs established and validated in this study can be used to objectively categorize the time that preschool-age children spend in different physical activity intensity levels.

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Yi-nam Suen, Ester Cerin and Sin-lung Wu

Background:

Regular participation in physical activity (PA) can help reduce the risk of overweight/obesity. Parental practices related to PA are modifiable determinants of preschoolers’ PA that are still not well understood, especially in non-Western cultures. This qualitative explorative study aimed to identify parental practices encouraging or discouraging PA in Hong Kong preschoolers.

Methods:

Nominal Group Technique (NGT) sessions (n = 45; 6 to 9/group), complemented by a focus group (n = 6) and individual interviews (n = 12), were conducted with primary caregivers (mainly parents) of Hong Kong preschoolers to investigate what parents do to encourage (4 groups) and discourage (2 groups) PA in children. The groups were stratified by low and high neighborhood socioeconomic status. Results: Participants generated 21 and 16 items describing practices encouraging and discouraging preschoolers’ PA, respectively. Parental provision of instrumental, motivational, and conditional support were thought to encourage child’s PA, while parental safety concerns, focus on academic achievement, lack of time and resources, and promotion of sedentary behaviors were thought to discourage child’s PA.

Conclusions:

Several parental practices that were deemed to encourage or discourage Hong Kong preschoolers’ PA were identified. These can assist with development of a culturally sensitive scale of PA parenting practices and inform future quantitative research.