Research Study Abstract

The Influences of Social and Physical Environmental Factors Within the Home on Preschoolers’ Physical Activity Levels

  • Added on June 15, 2012

Purpose To evaluate the influences of social and physical environmental factors within the home on preschoolers’ PA.

Methods GT1M Actigraph data for 7 days were obtained in a random sample of 70 boys and 71 girls (5.4 years ± 0.3). Social (parental attitudes, knowledge, social support, rules) and physical environmental factors (play space, TV and computer presence, neighborhood safety) were obtained by a parental questionnaire. Linear regression analyses and Pearson correlations were performed to examine the associations between the studied variables and child PA.

Results Preschoolers spend 86% of their time sedentary and only 14% in light-to-vigorous activity. For physical factors no significant correlations with PA were found except for a trend towards a significant negative association between the number of TV’s and child PA (r=-0.16; p=0.07). Higher parental scores for the importance of child PA (r=0.16; p=0.07), and for the importance of physical fitness and health (r=0.16; p=0.07) showed borderline significant correlations with the child’s total PA level. Higher parental encouragement (being active together with the child, watching the child while doing sports) was not associated with higher PA levels of the child. Parental rules on computer use, or on playing in- or outdoors were not associated with child PA, while higher scores for limiting screen time (r=0.17; p=0.05) was associated with more child PA.

Conclusions Not the physical home environment but parental attitudes and TV viewing rules were associated with PA levels in preschoolers. The inclusion of parental components is of importance for future interventions aiming to increase PA levels in preschool-aged children.