• Adult caregivers should limit screen time in preschoolers to provide more opportunities for physical activity.
• Schools should hire specialized PE teachers and aim to meet PE standards: daily, 225 minutes per week, of which 50% of time is spent in MVPA.
• Organized sports should be redesigned so they are fun and enjoyable for children to enhance their active playtime.
• Families should set physical activity goals and record progress to increase physical activity levels.
Preventing physical inactivity in youth starts in the preschool years and requires strategies targeting schools, caregivers, and families that limit excessive screen time and improve participation in PE, organized sports, and active play.
• Excessive screen time can displace time spent in structured and unstructured play, thereby directly lowering physical activity levels and could even indirectly lowering physical activity by impeding the development of motor skills and physical literacy.
• There is growing evidence that physical activity improves cognition, which could enhance academic achievement.
• The Project Play framework provides a roadmap to help children enter into organized sports, centered on the developmentally appropriate needs of children, and remain engaged throughout childhood.
Jonathan A. Mitchell, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His research aims to explain variations in childhood growth patterns that are related to the cause and prevention of chronic diseases in later life. He is particularly interested in promoting physical activity and sleep to help prevent excess weight gain and insufficient bone accretion in childhood.
Disclosure: The author declares no conflict of interest. This article was funded by NIH/NHLBI (K01HL123612-01A1).