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Prev Med. 2011 Feb;52(2):126-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.11.014. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

Sex differences in the variables associated with objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in preschoolers.

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Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, University Medicine Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.



To investigate variables associated with objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in German preschool children.


Cross-sectional data was collected from 649 three to six year old children (51% boys) in 52 preschools in south Germany between autumn and spring 2008-2009. Sociodemographic, health and socio-cultural variables that could affect children's objectively measured MVPA minutes, averaged over two to four week and weekend days, were tested in bivariate and multivariate linear regression models.


MVPA was significantly associated with the extrinsic variables age (-4.52 min/year of age), health status (5.62 min/category), high TV time (9.22 min/category) and high parental PA (6.59 min/category) among girls. For boys, only the intrinsic variable desire to be active (5.19 min/category) was significantly, positively associated with MVPA. The final models for girls and boys explained approximately 10% and 7% of the variance, respectively, in children's MVPA.


We found differences by sex in variables associated with objectively measured MVPA in preschoolers. A focus on extrinsic motivators such as parental PA for girls and intrinsic motivators for boys may be an important consideration when designing interventions and PA programs for this age group.

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