Levels and Patterns of Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in 4-Year-Old Swedish Children

J Phys Act Health. 2017 Feb;14(2):117-122. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2016-0250. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Background: Levels of physical activity (PA) affect health already at 4 years of age. The aims of this study were to describe levels and patterns of PA and sedentary time (ST) in a sample of 4-year-old Swedish children and to assess the number of children achieving PA guidelines throughout the week.

Methods: Data from 540 4-year-old children enrolled in the population-based PRIMROSE trial was used. PA was measured for a period of 1 week by the Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer. Average PA, time spent in light PA, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and ST were assessed.

Results: On average children spent 6.7% of the day in MVPA and 45% of the day being sedentary and 33% (n = 178) of the children met the PA guidelines of 60 minutes of MVPA per day. Boys spent 56.8 (SD 21.8) minutes/day in MVPA, while girls spent 43.0 (SD 18.1) minutes/day in MVPA (P < .001).

Conclusions: Four-year-old children spent almost half of the day being sedentary and only one-third meet the recommended PA guidelines. This finding is alarming as higher levels of PA, already at 4 years of age, seem to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and provides long-term health benefits.

Keywords: accelerometry; daycare; pediatric; sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Child
  • Child Health
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sweden