Family variables and physical activity in preschool children

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1988 Apr;9(2):57-61.


Correlates of the physical activity habits of preschool children were studied in a multiethnic sample. Physical activity levels of 33 low-income children were observed systematically during free-play periods at preschool. Children spent 58% of free-play time in sedentary activities (e.g., sitting), and were vigorously active only 11% of the time. Independent variables studied were child body mass index (BMI), teacher-rated Type A behavior, and parent-reported mother BMI, father BMI, parent vigorous activity, and family cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The multiple regression of moderate-intensity activity was significant, with family CVD risk, parent vigorous activity, and father BMI accounting for significant amounts of variance. The results suggest that the effects of parental role modeling on child physical activity levels may extend to free-play settings far beyond the confines of the home environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronary Disease / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Parents*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Schools, Nursery
  • Type A Personality