Energy Cost of Common Physical Activities in Preschoolers

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: To determine the energy cost of common physical activities in preschoolers and to compare it with the Compendium of Energy Expenditure for Youth (CEEY). Methods: In total, 42 children [age: 4.8 (0.8) y; body mass index: 15.3 (2.0) kg/m2; 22 boys] completed 13 common physical activities covering sedentary to vigorous intensities, while energy expenditure (EE) was measured continuously by indirect calorimetry. Activity-specific metabolic equivalents (AME) were calculated as the EE observed during each single activity divided by the EE during observed rest. Independent t tests were applied to analyze differences between boys and girls and between AME and CEEY. Results: No significant differences in AME were observed between girls and boys. Except for playing hide-and-seek, all indoor activities revealed significantly higher energy costs compared with those stated in the compendium. Significant differences in outdoor activities were found for riding a tricycle [5.67 (95% confidence interval, 4.94–6.4) AME vs 6.2 metabolic equivalents, riding a bike, P < .05] and for fast walking [5.42 (95% confidence interval, 4.84–6.0) AME vs 4.6 metabolic equivalents, P < .05]. Conclusions: Applying the CEEY to preschoolers will lead to a substantial underestimation of EE. Therefore, we recommend that a CEEY for preschool children be developed if measurement of EE is not feasible.

Brandes, Steenbock, and Wirsik are with the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen, Germany.

Brandes ( is corresponding author.

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