Correlates of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Acitvity Among Preschoolers During Unstructured Outdoor Play Periods

This article examines the levels and correlates of physical activity among preschool during recess. The authors conducted 204 observation periods of 51 children ages four and five at a preschool in southern California from 2009 to 2010. They conducted logistic regression analyses to determine correlates of higher levels of physical activity.

Key Findings:

  • Preschool children spent approximately 20 percent of their recess time in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
  • Children who spent more time in moderate to vigorous physical activity were more likely to be male and normal weight. Children with higher physical activity levels were also more likely to play by themselves or with one other child.
  • Children playing in open spaces had higher levels of physical activity than children in more crowded areas.

This research provides a profile of preschool children’s physical activity at recess. Since 65 percent of children ages three through five attend preschool in the United States, improved knowledge about activity levels in preschool may contribute to better understanding of the obesity epidemic. These findings may not be applicable to all preschool since they were recorded at a single preschool with significantly lower than average obesity rates.