Abstract MP39: A Multi-component Intervention Increased Physical Activity in Preschool Children
Introduction: A majority of preschool-age children spend a significant portion of every weekday in a preschool or child care setting. Studies have shown that children in these settings spend a majority of their time in sedentary behavior and very little time in physical activity.
Hypothesis: A multi-component preschool physical activity intervention will increase the amount of time young children spend in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and decrease the time they spend in sedentary activities, compared to children in control preschools.
Methods: The study included 16 preschools with 4-year-old classrooms, paired and randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. The intervention focused on increasing children’s physical activity by changing instructional practices and the classroom environment. Research staff trained preschool teachers to engage children in physical activity throughout the school day and provided physical activity materials, ongoing support and technical assistance. Intervention components included physical activity opportunities in the classroom, physical activity outdoors, and active lessons. The intervention was designed to be flexible, and research staff encouraged teachers to adapt it to their classroom environment. Four-year-old children and their parents were recruited in two waves at each school. Measures included child height and weight, child physical activity by accelerometry, and parent questionnaires, measured during the fall and spring of each wave. Mixed model analysis of covariance with preschool as a random variable tested the effects of the intervention on physical activity in the total group and by sex.
Results: A total of 379 children (188 intervention and 191 control) were measured at baseline. Children were 4.5±0.4 years of age, and 50% were boys. The intervention schools included a higher percentage of white children compared to the control schools (44.2% versus 39.3%). After adjusting for wave, parent education and length of the school day (half day vs. full day), children in the intervention schools engaged in significantly more MVPA than children in the control schools (7.4±0.2 and 6.7±0.2 minutes/hour, respectively). In the sex-specific analyses, differences between intervention and control were significant for girls (6.9±02 vs. 6.1±0.2 minutes/hour of MVPA, respectively) but not for boys (7.8±03 vs. 7.3±0.3 minutes/hour, respectively). No differences in time spent in sedentary behavior were observed between intervention and control preschools.
Conclusions: In conclusion, a flexible, multi-component physical activity intervention that trains teachers to provide children with opportunities to be active throughout the school day increased MVPA in preschool children.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.