Advertisement

Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 281–287 | Cite as

Children’s Activity Levels in Different Playground Environments: An Observational Study in Four Canadian Preschools

  • Stephen Berg
Article

Abstract

Engaging in moderate to vigorous amounts of physical activity is needed for young children to grow and develop to their full potential and the playground environment can help play a role. The purpose of this study was to determine the physical activity levels of children in preschool settings during outdoor playground activity time. Four preschools in British Columbia, Canada were purposefully selected based around their playground design and structure. The System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth, Children’s Activity Rating Scale, and the Observation for Recording Physical Activity in Children—Preschool Version were used to determine the physical activity levels of children, to track the location of preschool children and to code the types of activities. A total of 2,268 observations were recorded across all four environments. Results found that children in approximately half of the observations were engaged in sedentary physical activity (51 %) while only participating in vigorous activity during 20 % of the observations. These findings support the need for educators to consider the role the environment plays in determining young children’s amounts of physical activity.

Keywords

Preschools Playgrounds Physical activity Outdoors 

References

  1. Armstrong, J., Dorosty, A. R., Reilly, J. J., & Emmett, P. M. (2003). Coexistence of social inequalities in undernutrition and obesity in preschool children: Population based cross sectional study. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 88, 671–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berg, S., Hickson, C., & Fishburne, G. (2010). Teaching children about health and wellness. Edmonton, AB: Ripon Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, W. H., Googe, H. S., McIver, K. L., & Rathel, J. M. (2009). Effects of teacher-encouraged physical activity on preschool playgrounds. Journal of Early Intervention, 31, 126–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, W. H., Pfeiffer, K. A., McIver, K. L., Dowda, M., Almeida, M. J., & Pate, R. R. (2006). Assessing preschool children’s physical activity: The observational system for recording physical activity in children—Preschool version. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 77(2), 167–176.Google Scholar
  5. Cardon, G., Labarque, V., Smits, D., & Bourdeaudhuiji, I. D. (2009). Promoting physical activity at the pre-school playground: The effects of providing markings and play equipment. Preventive Medicine, 48, 335–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dowda, M., Brown, W. H., McIver, K. L., Karin, A., Pfeiffer, K. A., O’Neill, J. R., et al. (2009). Policies and characteristics of the preschool environment and physical activity of young children. Pediatrics, 123(2), 261–266. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dowda, M., Pate, R. R., Trost, S. G., Almeida, M. J. C. A., & Sirard, J. R. (2004). Influences of preschool policies and practices on children’s physical activity. Journal of Community Health, 29(3), 183–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dyment, J. E. (2005). Gaining ground: The power and potential of green school grounds in the Toronto district school board. Retrieved from http://www.evergreen.ca/en/lg/lg-resources.html.
  9. Dyment, J. E., & Coleman, B. (2012). The intersection of physical activity opportunities and the role of early childhood educators during outdoor play: Perceptions and reality. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 90–98.Google Scholar
  10. Fishburne, G. J. (2005). Developmentally appropriate physical education for children and youth. Edmonton, AB: Ripon Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Flynn, M. A. T., McNeil, D. A., Maloff, B., Mutasingwa, D., Wu, M., Ford, C., et al. (2006). Reducing obesity and related chronic disease risk in children and youth: A synthesis of evidence with “best practice” recommendations. Obesity Reviews, 7, 7–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Google Maps. (2014). [University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC] [Street Map]. Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/maps/search/University+of+British+Columbia+-+UBC+Okanagan+Campus,+Kelowna,+BC/@49.9415645,-119.396338,17z/data=!3m1!4b1.
  13. Hannon, J. C., & Brown, W. H. (2008). Increasing preschoolers’ physical activity intensities: An activity-friendly preschool playground intervention. Preventive Medicine, 46(6), 532–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lobstein, T., & Jackson-Leach, R. (2006). Estimated burden of pediatric obesity and co-morbidities in Europe. Part 2. Numbers of children with indicators of obesity-related disease. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 1, 33–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lucas, A. J., & Dyment, J. E. (2010). Where do children choose to play on the school ground? The influence of green design. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary Elementary and Early Years Education, 38(2), 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McKenzie, T. L. (2005). System for observing fitness instruction time (SOFIT) procedures manual (pp. 4–12). San Diego, CA: San Diego State University.Google Scholar
  17. McKenzie, T. L., Marshall, S. J., Sallis, J. F., & Conway, T. L. (2000). Student activity levels, lesson context, and teacher behavior during middle school physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 249–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2010). 101 tips for increasing physical activity in early childhood. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/Increasing_Childrens_Physical_Activity.pdf.
  19. Pate, R. R., McIver, K., Dowda, M., Brown, W. H., & Addy, C. (2008). Directly observed physical activity levels in preschool children. The Journal of School Health, 78, 438–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pate, R. R., Pfeiffer, K. A., Trost, S. G., Ziegler, P., & Dowda, M. (2004). Physical activity among children attending preschools. Pediatrics, 114, 1258–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Puhl, J., Greaves, K. A., Hoyt, M., & Baranowski, T. (1990). Children’s activity rating scale (CARS): Description and calibration. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 61(1), 26–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tremblay, M. S., & Willms, J. D. (2003). Is the Canadian childhood obesity epidemic related to physical inactivity? International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1100–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Trost, S. G., Sirard, J. R., Dowda, M., Pfeiffer, K. A., & Pate, R. R. (2003). Physical activity in overweight and nonoverweight preschool children. International Journal Obesity, 27, 834–839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tucker, P. (2008). The physical activity levels of preschool-aged children: A systematic review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 547–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Van Sluijs, E., McMinn, A., & Griffin, S. (2008). Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity in children and adolescents: Systematic review of controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42(8), 653–667.Google Scholar
  26. World Health Organization (WHO) (2010). Childhood overweight and obesity. Retrieved from www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/index.html.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education EME-3169University of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada

Personalised recommendations