Preschool Daily Patterns of Physical Activity Driven by Location and Social Context

Chelsey R. Schlechter, Richard R. Rosenkranz, Bronwyn S. Fees, David A. Dzewaltowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Preschool children are recommended to spend at least 15 minutes/hour (25% time) in light-to-vigorous physical activity (total physical activity, TPA). Preschool provider practices, such as whether children are put in small group or whole-group activities, are likely to affect children's TPA levels during preschool. The current study characterized the pattern of physical activity across the preschool day, and examined the relationship of location and social arrangement to TPA. METHODS: Fifteen days from 8 preschool classrooms in 2 preschool centers were video-recorded, and children (N = 73, age = 3-6 years, M = 4.36 ± 0.85, Boys = 47%) wore accelerometers for the duration of the preschool day. We observed contextual variables of time (ie, morning or afternoon), location (ie, indoor or outdoor), and for a subsample, social arrangement (ie, activity centers, small group, whole group). RESULTS: Across the whole day, children spent 69.5 ± 12.4% time sedentary/inactive and 30.5 ± 13.5% time in TPA. Children spent a significantly greater percentage of time in TPA outdoors, compared to indoors (t = 10.00, p <.001), and while in small groups compared to whole groups (t = 3.35, p =.009). CONCLUSION: Children spent approximately 30% of the preschool day in TPA. Providing more time outdoors and restructuring preschool activities from whole group to small group could increase the amount of TPA that children accumulate during preschool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • accelerometer
  • indoor physical activity
  • outdoor physical activity
  • preschool
  • preschool children's physical activity
  • preschool children's social influences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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