Social and environmental factors associated with preschoolers' nonsedentary physical activity

Child Dev. Jan-Feb 2009;80(1):45-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01245.x.


The twofold purposes of the investigation were (a) to describe with direct observation data the physical activity behaviors and the accompanying social and environmental events of those behaviors for children in preschools and (b) to determine which contextual conditions were predictors of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and nonsedentary physical activity (i.e., light activity + MVPA) for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children during their outdoor play. The results indicate that preschoolers' physical activity is characterized as sedentary in nature throughout their preschool day (i.e., 89% sedentary, 8% light activity, and 3% MVPA). During outdoor play periods, when children are most likely to be physically active, some contextual and social circumstances better predict their physical activity. Implications for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Intervention, Educational
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Peer Group
  • Play and Playthings
  • Schools, Nursery
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Identification