Preschooler's physical activity levels and associations with lesson context, teacher's behavior and environment during preschool physical education

E. van Cauwenberghe*, V. Labarque*, J.S. Gubbels*, I. de Bourdeaudhuij*, G. Cardon*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Preschools offer two main opportunities, recess and physical education (PE), for preschool children to participate in physical activity (PA) and are considered a suitable institution for PA promotion given the large number of children enrolled. Although PE can have a meaningful effect on preschoolers' PA levels, preschool PE characteristics associated with increased PA have, to the best of our knowledge, not been identified. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine preschooler's PA levels and the associations with lesson context, teacher behavior, and environment during preschool physical education. A random sample of 573 preschoolers (288 boys: M-age = 5.4 years, SD = 0.4) from 35 preschools was examined during one PE class. Findings indicated that preschoolers accumulated 12 min (33%) of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), 5 min (13%) of light PA, and 20 min (54%) of sedentary behavior during PE. Forty-seven percent of the variance in pupils' MVPA may be attributed to differences between PE classes. Less knowledge content, less promotion, less management, less preschoolers per 100 m(2), using obstruction material, and not using throwing equipment were significantly associated with higher MVPA levels. These predictors explained 56% of the variance in MVPA at the PE class-level. To conclude, PE in its current format contributes only a small amount to the PA requirements of preschoolers. Preschoolers' MVPA levels were related to modifiable PE characteristics indicating that preschool PE can be restructured to increase MVPA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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