Intervention Strategies to Elicit MVPA in Preschoolers during Outdoor Play

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jan 19;17(2):650. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17020650.


Approximately 50% of preschoolers do not meet physical activity recommendations and children who reside in low-income rural communities may be further at risk for higher levels of sedentary behavior. Outdoor play is essential for preschool children; however, literature is unclear as to which types of interventions elicit moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for all preschoolers. The aim of this study was to determine which type of intervention, physical activity or fundamental motor skill focus, elicits MVPA during outdoor play. Ninety-eight preschool children (M age = 4.48 years) from one Head Start center participated in an outdoor play intervention two days per week for 7 weeks. Classes were randomly assigned to one of four groups: fundamental motor skill focus (FMS), physical activity focus (PA), FMS and PA (FMS + PA), and control. An accelerometer worn on the hip measured MVPA. Results showed that age, sex and group assignment contributed to MVPA at the beginning of the intervention and age, sex, group assignment and MVPA during the beginning of the intervention contributed to MVPA at the end of the intervention. Overall, the FMS + PA group elicited MVPA from males and females of all ages. Interventions that combine both FMS and PA may reduce physical activity disparities in preschool children.

Keywords: childcare; fundamental motor skills; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Poverty