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Low Levels of Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Preschoolers in Child Care


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 3 - p 502-507
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cea100

Background: Physical activity (PA) undertaken at child care could assist in the achievement of PA recommendations across a large proportion of the population in early childhood.

Purpose: To review recent evidence on volume of PA and amount of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA (MVPA) in preschool children within child care centers.

Methods: Literature search for studies published in 2000-2008 in which objective methods (accelerometry, direct observation, pedometers, HR monitoring) were used to measure typical levels of PA and MVPA of preschool children while within child care.

Results: Twelve eligible articles were identified, describing 13 studies, involving 96 different child care centers and >1900 children. In all six of the accelerometry studies that quantified MVPA and in three of the four studies that used direct observation to quantify MVPA, typical levels of PA within the child care center would have led to the accumulation of <60 min·d−1 MVPA during a full 8-h child care day.

Conclusions: A body of high-quality evidence is consistent in suggesting that PA levels within child care centers are typically very low, and levels of sedentary behavior are typically high.

University of Glasgow Division of Developmental Medicine, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: John J. Reilly, Ph.D., University of Glasgow Division of Developmental Medicine, 1st Floor Tower Block QMH, Yorkhill Hospitals, Glasgow, G3 8SJ, Scotland, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2008.

Accepted for publication March 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine