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Preschooler physical activity influenced by several factors

October 13, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) It's important for all children to get a regular amount of physical activity each day. Sometimes, the amount they get is affected by factors at preschool.

A recent study identified nine factors that affected how much physical activity preschoolers got.

Boys were more active than girls, and rainy days decreased their activity levels.

The placement of the preschool on the playground and the time children spent at preschool in the afternoon also influenced their physical activity levels.

"Be sure preschoolers get lots of physical activity."

The study, led by Line Groenholt Olesen, MS, of the Centre of Research in Childhood Health at the University of Southern Denmark, aimed to understand what factors might influence preschool children's amount of physical activity.

The researchers collected information on 426 Danish children, aged 5 and 6, who appeared healthy and were enrolled in one of 42 preschools.

The researchers used devices called ActiGraphs, worn by the children, to measure how much moderate and vigorous physical activity the children got over four days in May and June while at preschool.

The researchers compared this information to 37 different possible factors that might influence the amount of physical activity the children had.

Of these 37 possibilities, the researchers' analysis revealed that nine were related to how much physical activity the children engaged in.

Children who had been born as preemies (before they were at full term) tended to get less physical activity than other children.

Rainy days and the existence of vegetation on the playground also led to decreased amounts of physical activity among the children.

Five factors were linked to higher amounts of physical activity.

Boys were more likely than girls to get more moderate and vigorous physical activity.

Children with stronger motor skills coordination (ability to run, jump, balance, etc.) also had more physical activity than children with weaker coordination.

In addition, the larger the indoor area of the preschool was, the more physical activity the children engaged in.

The other two factors influencing greater amounts of physical activity were the location of the preschool building on the playground and the percentage of afternoon hours the children were at preschool.

Children engaged more often in physical activity if more sides of the building were accessible to them from the playground.

They were also more active if they were at preschool for more hours during the afternoon.

The final factor that appeared to have a link to children's amount of physical activity was the parents' level of education, but it wasn't clear how this characteristic influenced children's activity levels.

The researchers concluded that several of these factors could be studied further and possibly adjusted to increase children's amount of physical activity.

The study was published October 14 in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers declared no conflicts of interest.

The research was funded by the Danish foundation TrygFonden and Social Educators and by the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators.

Review Date: 
October 14, 2013
Last Updated:
October 14, 2013