Can Childcare Work Be Designed to Promote High Intensity Physical Activity for Improved Fitness and Health? A Proof of Concept Study of the Goldilocks Principle

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 12;17(20):7419. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207419.


Childcare workers are reported to have high variation in physical activity during work hours, but also to sit for about half of the workday and have almost no high intensity physical activity (HIPA). No study has investigated if their work can be re-designed to introduce HIPA, thus promoting fitness and health according to the Goldilocks principle. This study investigated the feasibility of designing pedagogical games ('Goldilocks-games') intended to lead to more HIPA. Heart rate was measured in nineteen childcare workers during Goldilocks-games, and compared to measurements during a regular workday. Worker perceptions of feasibility, and researcher observations of contextual factors were also collected. The Goldilocks-games (33 min) elicited significantly more HIPA (18/33 min) compared to the most active period of equal length on a regular workday (0.5/33 min). Seventy-four-percent of the childcare workers reported that it was feasible to integrate the Goldilocks-games pedagogically, and seventy-two-percent could see themselves using them. Thus, we found it possible to re-design a work task in childcare according to the Goldilocks principle so that it leads to substantial time with HIPA. The sustainability of Goldilocks-games in childcare, and their effectiveness in improving fitness and health among childcare workers, needs to be tested in further studies.

Keywords: childcare workers; health promotion; physical activity; sedentary behavior; work environment; workplace.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Care*
  • Exercise
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Proof of Concept Study
  • Sedentary Behavior*