Physical activity promotion in the preschool years: a critical period to intervene

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Apr;9(4):1326-42. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9041326. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


The primary aim of this paper is to provide a rationale for the necessity of intervening with a physical activity intervention in the preschool years and why the daycare environment is amenable to such intervention. We also review the prevalence of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and obesity in the preschool population and the impact that these lifestyle behaviours and conditions have on the health of preschool aged children, as secondary objectives. Moreover we discuss implications for intervention and research using a "lessons learned" model based on our research team's experience of conducting a randomized controlled trial aimed at increasing physical activity, reducing sedentary behaviour and improving motor skill development and body composition in preschoolers. Lastly, we make conclusions based on the literature and highlight issues and directions that need to be addressed in future research in order to maximize health promotion and chronic disease prevention in the pediatric population.

Keywords: critical period; obesity; physical activity; preschoolers; prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*