Influences of preschool policies and practices on children's physical activity

J Community Health. 2004 Jun;29(3):183-96. doi: 10.1023/


The objective of this study was to determine if moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) of 3-5 year old preschool children varied with differences in policies/practices, and overall quality of preschools. A total of 266 children (47% males, 60% African American) from 9 preschools were observed for 1 hour on 3 different days. PA of children was observed twice per minute and scored as 1-5, with 1 for stationary/motionless and 5 for fast movement. Summary MVPA was calculated over the 3 days as percent of times observed at levels of 4 or 5, and percent of time at levels 1 or 2 as sedentary activity. A structured interview about PA policies was conducted with an administrator at each preschool and overall quality of the preschool was assessed using Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised Edition (ECERS-R). Preschools were divided into groups according to whether a specific policy/practice that would be logically hypothesized to promote PA was in place at the school. MVPA differences between groups of children was assessed using mixed ANOVA controlling for preschool. When preschools offered more field trips, and more college educated teachers, the children participated in more MVPA. Children who attended preschools with lower quality spent more time in sedentary activity. In conclusion, children in preschools which may have more resources and better quality appear to show both more sedentary behavior and more MVPA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child Behavior / ethnology
  • Child Behavior / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observation
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • South Carolina