Motor skill performance and physical activity in preschool children

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jun;16(6):1421-6. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.214. Epub 2008 Apr 3.


Children with better-developed motor skills may find it easier to be active and engage in more physical activity (PA) than those with less-developed motor skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between motor skill performance and PA in preschool children. Participants were 80 three- and 118 four-year-old children. The Children's Activity and Movement in Preschool Study (CHAMPS) Motor Skill Protocol was used to assess process characteristics of six locomotor and six object control skills; scores were categorized as locomotor, object control, and total. The actigraph accelerometer was used to measure PA; data were expressed as percent of time spent in sedentary, light, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and vigorous PA (VPA). Children in the highest tertile for total score spent significantly more time in MVPA (13.4% vs. 12.8% vs. 11.4%) and VPA (5% vs. 4.6% vs. 3.8%) than children in middle and lowest tertiles. Children in the highest tertile of locomotor scores spent significantly less time in sedentary activity than children in other tertiles and significantly more time in MVPA (13.4% vs. 11.6%) and VPA (4.9% vs. 3.8%) than children in the lowest tertile. There were no differences among tertiles for object control scores. Children with poorer motor skill performance were less active than children with better-developed motor skills. This relationship between motor skill performance and PA could be important to the health of children, particularly in obesity prevention. Clinicians should work with parents to monitor motor skills and to encourage children to engage in activities that promote motor skill performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • South Carolina
  • Task Performance and Analysis*