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Prev Chronic Dis. 2011 Nov;8(6):A131. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Correlates of sedentary time and physical activity among preschool-aged children.

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Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



Few studies have examined the correlates of objectively measured amounts of sedentary time and physical activity in young children. We evaluated the demographic, biological, behavioral, social, and environmental correlates of the amount of sedentary time and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) as measured by accelerometry in preschool-aged children.


We obtained baseline measurements of physical activity by using an Actical accelerometer among 337 preschool-aged children (aged 2-5) of overweight or obese mothers. For children, we defined sedentary time as less than 12 counts per 15 seconds and MVPA as 715 or more counts per 15 seconds. Body mass index of the mother and child (calculated from measured height and weight) and maternal physical activity as measured by accelerometer were included as potential correlates. Mothers self-reported all other potential correlates. We used multivariable linear regression analyses to examine correlates of the amount of sedentary time and MVPA.


Children had an average of 6.1 hours per day of sedentary time and 14.9 minutes per day of MVPA. In multivariable analysis, boys (P <.001) had fewer minutes per day of sedentary time, whereas older children (P <.001), boys (P <.001), children in high-income households (>$60,000/y [P = .005]), and children who spent more time outdoors (P = .001) had more MVPA.


Both modifiable and nonmodifiable factors were correlated with preschool children's amount of MVPA, which can be helpful when designing interventions for this age group. The lack of correlates for sedentary time indicates the need for further investigation into this behavior.

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