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Pediatr Obes. 2013 Apr;8(2):142-9. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00099.x. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Physical activity behaviours of highly active preschoolers.

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  • 1Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.



Understanding the physical activity behaviour of young children who are highly active may provide important guidance for promoting physical activity in preschools.


The objective of this study was to describe the movement characteristics of high-active (HA) children during attendance at preschools.


Children in 20 preschools (n = 231) wore accelerometers and were classified into tertiles of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Children's movement characteristics were observed using the Observational System for Recording Physical Activity in Children-Preschool Version. Mixed-model analyses compared movement types between HA children and lower-active (LA) children during the total school day.


HA (n = 77) children were observed to be more active than LA children (n = 154) indoors (P < 0.001), but no differences were observed outdoors. HA children were more frequently observed running, crawling, climbing, jumping, skipping, swinging and throwing across the total school day than LA children. Outdoors, HA children participated in more swinging and throwing and less jumping or skipping than LA children. Indoors, HA children spent more time pulling, pushing and running, and less time walking than LA children.


HA children have unique activity patterns. Further interventions to increase physical activity of all preschoolers should increase the time spent outside and include varied activity types throughout the entire school day.

© 2012 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity © 2012 International Association for the Study of Obesity.

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