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J Phys Act Health. 2014 Feb;11(2):364-74. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2011-0325. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

How to motivate childcare workers to engage preschoolers in physical activity.

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Faculty of Nursing, Laval University, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Canada.



Data available indicate that numerous childcare workers are not strongly motivated to engage children aged 3-5 in physical activity. Using the theory of planned behavior as the main theoretical framework, this study has 2 objectives: to identify the determinants of the intention of childcare workers to engage preschoolers in physical activity and to identify the variables that could be used to develop an intervention to motivate childcare workers to support preschoolers' physical activity.


174 childcare workers from 60 childcare centers selected at random in 2 regions of Quebec completed a self-administered questionnaire assessing the constructs of the theory of planned behavior as well as past behavior, descriptive norm and moral norm.


Moral norm, perceived behavioral control and subjective norm explained 85% of the variance in intention to engage the children in physical activity.


To motivate childcare workers, it is necessary that they perceive that directors, children's parents and coworkers approve of their involvement in children's physical activity. In addition, their ability to overcome perceived barriers (lack of time, loaded schedule, inclement weather) should be developed. Access to a large outdoor yard might also help motivate childcare workers.

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