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Child Dev. 2009 Jan-Feb;80(1):45-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01245.x.

Social and environmental factors associated with preschoolers' nonsedentary physical activity.

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Department of Educational Studies, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.


The twofold purposes of the investigation were (a) to describe with direct observation data the physical activity behaviors and the accompanying social and environmental events of those behaviors for children in preschools and (b) to determine which contextual conditions were predictors of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and nonsedentary physical activity (i.e., light activity + MVPA) for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children during their outdoor play. The results indicate that preschoolers' physical activity is characterized as sedentary in nature throughout their preschool day (i.e., 89% sedentary, 8% light activity, and 3% MVPA). During outdoor play periods, when children are most likely to be physically active, some contextual and social circumstances better predict their physical activity. Implications for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers are discussed.

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