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Prev Med. 2014 May;62:182-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.02.007. Epub 2014 Feb 15.

Early childhood physical activity, sedentary behaviors and psychosocial well-being: a systematic review.

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Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Australia. Electronic address:
Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Australia.



Little is known about how health behaviors such as physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviors (SB) may be associated with psychosocial well-being during the crucial early childhood period. The aim of this study was to undertake a systematic review of associations between PA, SB and psychosocial well-being during early childhood.


In February 2013, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus and Embase electronic databases were searched. Inclusion criteria were: 1. peer-reviewed publication since 1980 in English; 2. children aged birth-5 years; 3. PA or SB measured during early childhood; 4. an indicator of child psychosocial well-being; and 5. association between PA/SB and psychosocial well-being reported. Studies could be observational or interventions. Data were extracted by one author and entered into a standardized form in February and March 2013.


19 studies were identified: four examined PA, 13 examined SB and two examined PA and SB. No interventions met the inclusion criteria; all included studies were observational. In total, 21 indicators of psychosocial well-being were examined, 13 only once with the remaining eight reported in more than one study. Some dose-response evidence was identified suggesting that PA is positively, and SB inversely, associated with psychosocial well-being.


Too few studies exist to draw conclusions regarding associations. Future high-quality cohort and intervention studies are warranted particularly investigating dose-response associations.


Early childhood; Electronic screen use; Physical activity; Psychosocial well-being; Systematic review

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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