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J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2791-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318283b3f1.

Development of various reaction abilities and their relationships with favorite play activities in preschool children.

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1Ishikawa Prefectural University, Suematsu, Nonoichi City, Ishikawa, Japan 2Kanazawa University Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kakuma, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa, Japan 3Akita Prefectural University, Kaidobata-Nishi, Nakano Shimoshinjo, Akita City, Akita, Japan 4Jin-Ai University, Ohde-cho, Echizen City, Fukui, Japan.


This study examines the development of various reaction movements in preschool children and the relationship between reaction times and favorite play activities. The subjects were 167 healthy preschool children aged 4-6 (96 boys and 71 girls). This study focused on the reaction times of the upper limbs (reaction 1: release; reaction 2: press) and the whole body (reaction 3: forward jump). The activities frequently played in preschools are largely divided into dynamic play activities (tag, soccer, gymnastics set, dodge ball, and jump rope) and static play activities (drawing, playing house, reading, playing with sand, and building blocks). The subjects chose 3 of 10 cards picturing their favorite play activities, depicting 10 different activities. All intraclass correlation coefficients of measured reaction times were high (0.73-0.79). In addition, each reaction time shortened with age. Reaction 1 showed a significant and low correlation with reaction 3 (r = 0.37). The effect size of the whole body reaction time was the largest. Whole body reaction movement, which is largely affected by the exercise output function, develops remarkably in childhood. Children who liked "tag" were faster in all reaction times. The children who chose "soccer" were faster in reactions 2 and 3. In contrast, children who liked "playing house" tended to have slower reaction times. Dynamic activities, such as tag and soccer, promote development of reaction speed and agility in movements involving the whole body. Preschool teachers and physical educators should re-examine the effect of tag and use it periodically as one of the exercise programs to avoid unexpected falls and injuries in everyday life.

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