Physical activity (PA) is important for children’s growth and development and for their current and future health. Schools, especially during physical education (PE), are important locations for children to accrue PA. The purpose of this study was to assess the PA levels of preschool children during structured PE lessons and to evaluate the impact of selected characteristics (e.g., lesson context, length, and location; teacher behavior; class size; activity area density). Trained observers used SOFIT (System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time) to assess 90 structured PE lessons taught by 25 different teachers. Intact classes (n = 5 to 6 and representing 3 different grade levels) in 4 selected preschools were observed on 4 days over a 4-week period. Overall, children engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) 49.9% (SD = 15.7) of lesson time and there were differences in MVPA% among the four preschools, by lesson context, and by teacher behavior. There were no significant differences in MVPA% either between indoor (n = 69) and outdoor (n = 21) lessons or among the 3 grade levels. Even though the lessons approached the 50% MVPA guideline, the brevity of them left children far short of recommended daily amounts of PA. Future studies should investigate how preschools can increase on-campus opportunities for PA both during PE and throughout the school days.
Cite this paper
|||American Heart Association (2014). The AHA’s Recommendations for Physical ACTIVITY in Children. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association.
|||Baumgartner, T. A., & Hensley, L. D. (2006). Conducting and Reading Research in Health and Human Performance (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.|
|||Cardon, G. M., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. M. (2008). Are Preschool Children Active Enough? Objectively Measured Physical Activity Levels. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79, 326-332.
|||Chow, B. C., McKenzie, T. L., & Louie, L. (2008). Children’s Physical Activity and Environmental Influences during Elementary School Physical Education. Journal of Teaching Physical Education, 27, 38-50.|
|||Chow, B. C., McKenzie, T. L., & Louie, L. (2009). Physical Activity and Environmental Influences during Secondary School Physical Education. Journal of Teaching Physical Education, 28, 21-37.|
|||Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health (2014). Move and Play Every Day: National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0 – 5 Years.
|||Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection (2011). Start Active, Stay Active: A Report on Physical Activity for Health for the Four Home Countries’ Chief Medical Officers. London: Crown. https://www.sportengland.org/media/388152/dh_128210.pdf|
|||Dowda, M., Pate, R. P., Trost, S. G., Almeida, M. J. C. A., & Sirard, J. R. (2004). Influences of Preschool Policies and Practices on Children’s Physical Activity. Journal of Community Health, 29, 183-196.
|||Fairclough. S. J., & Stratton, G. (2006). A Review of Physical Activity Levels during Elementary School Physical Education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 25, 239-257.|
|||Hong Kong Government Census and Statistics Department (2006). Hong Kong 2006 Population By-Census Main Report: (Vol. 1, pp. 18).
|||Hong Kong Government Education Bureau (2006). Operational Manual of Pre-Primary Institutions.
|||Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2011). Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies. Washington DC: National Academics Press.|
|||Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2013). Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Washington DC: National Academics Press.|
|||Janssen, I., & LeBlanc, A. G. (2010). Systematic Review of the Health Benefits of Physical Activity and Fitness in School- Aged Children and Youth. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7, 40.
|||Janz, K. F., Burns, T. L., Levy, S. M., Torner, J. C., Willing, M. C., Beck, T. J., Marshall, T. A. et al. (2004). Everyday Activity Predicts Bone Geometry in Children: The Iowa Bone Development Study. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36, 1124-1131.
|||Louie, L., & Chan, L. (2003). The Use of Pedometry to Evaluate the Physical Activity Levels among Preschool Children in Hong Kong. Early Child Development & Care, 173, 97-107.
|||McKenzie, T. L. (2012). SOFIT (System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time): Generic Description and Procedures Manual. San Diego, CA: San Diego State University.
|||McKenzie, T. L., & Lounsbery, M. A. F. (2013). Physical Education Teacher Effectiveness in a Public Health Context. Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport, 84, 419-430.
|||McKenzie, T. L., & van der Mars, H. (2015). Top 10 Research Questions Related to Assessing Physical Activity and Its Contexts Using Systematic Observation. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 86, 13-29.
|||McKenzie, T. L., Catellier, D. J., Conway, T., Lytle, L. A., Grieser, M., Webber, L. A. et al. (2006). Girls’ Activity Levels and Lesson Contexts during Middle School PE: TAAG Baseline. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38, 1229-1235.
|||McKenzie, T. L., Sallis, J. F., & Nader, P. R. (1991). SOFIT: System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11, 195-205.|
|||McKenzie, T. L., Sallis, J. F., Nader, P. R., Broyles, S. L., & Nelson, J. A. (1992). Anglo- and Mexican-American Preschoolers at Home and at Recess: Activity Patterns and Environmental Influences. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 13, 173-180.
|||National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE] (2011). Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children from Birth to Age 5 (2nd ed.). Reston, VA: NASPE.
|||NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development Network [NICHD] (2003). Frequency and Intensity of Activity of Third Grade Children in Physical Education. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157, 185-190.|
|||Pate, R. R., & O’Neill, J. R. (2012). Physical Activity Guidelines for Young Children: An Emerging Consensus. JAMA Pediatrics, 166, 1095-1096.
|||Pate, R. R., Mclver, K., Dowda, M., Brown, W. H., & Addy, C. (2008). Directly Observed Physical Activity Levels in Preschool Children. Journal of School Health, 78, 438-444.
|||Pate, R. R., Pfeiffer, K. A., Trost, S. G., Ziegler, P., & Dowda, M. (2004). Physical Activity among Children Attending Preschools. Pediatrics, 114, 1258-1263.
|||Pate, R., Davis, M. G., Robinson, T. N., Stone, E. J., McKenzie, T. L., & Young, J. C. (2006). Promoting Physical Activity in Children and Youth: A Leadership Role for Schools: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism (Physical Activity Committee) in Collaboration with the Councils on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young and Cardiovascular Nursing. Circulation, 114, 1214-1224.
|||Reilly, J. J. (2008). Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Energy Balance in the Preschool Child: Opportunities for Early Obesity Prevention. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67, 317-325.
|||Reznik, M., Wylie-Rosett, J. W., Kim, M., & Ozuah, P. O. (2013). Physical Activity during School in Urban Minority Kindergarten and First-Grade Pupils. Pediatrics, 131, e81-e87.
|||Sugiyama, T., Okely, A. D., Masters, J. M., & Moore, G. T. (2012). Attributes of Child Care Centers and Outdoor Play Areas Associated with Preschoolers’ Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior. Environment and Behavior, 44, 334-349.
|||Timmons, B. W., Naylor, P. J., & Pfeiffer, K. A. (2007). Physical Activity for Preschool Children—How Much and How? Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98, S122-S134.|
|||Tremblay, L., Boudreau-Larivière, C., & Cimon-Lambert, K. (2012). Promoting Physical Activity in Preschoolers: A Review of the Guidelines, Barriers, and Facilitators for Implementation of Policies and Practices. Canadian Psychology, 53, 280-290.
|||Trost, S. G., Ward, D. S., & Senso, M. (2010). Effects of Child Care Policy and Environment on Physical Activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42, 520-525.
|||Tucker, P. (2008). The Physical Activity Levels of Preschool-Aged Children: A Systematic Review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 547-558.
|||U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) (2000). Healthy People 2010 (Conference ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|||Van Cauwenberghe, E., Labarque, V., Gubbels, J., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., & Cardon, G. (2012). Preschooler’s Physical Activity Levels and Associations with Lesson Context, Teacher’s Behavior, and Environment during Preschool Physical Education. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 221-230.
|||Wang, Y., & Lobstein, T. (2006). Worldwide Trends in Childhood Overweight and Obesity. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 1, 11-25.
|||Waters, E., de Silva-Sanigorski, A., Hall, B. J., Brown, T., Campbell, K. J., Gao, Y. et al. (2011). Interventions for Preventing Obesity in Children. Cochrane Database System Review, 7, CD001871.
|||World Health Organization (2004). Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. 57th World Health Assembly. Geneva: World Health Organization.