Authors & Country

Study Design


PA Measure

Outcome Measure


Buss et al. (1980)


1-year longitudinal study examining the relationship between early activity level and personality characteristics

123 3 yr children (50% boys)

Actometer (2 h per session, 3 - 4 sessions with an interval of 1 week)

Sex, IQ, and personality using the California Child Q Set

The sex difference was inconsistent; boys were significantly more active than girls at age 4, but not at age 3.

PA was not related to IQ across ages.

Preschool activity level was only related to a set of interpersonal and motoric attributes.

Bürgi et al. (2011) CH

9-month longitudinal study investigating the relationship of PA with motor skills, aerobic fitness and body fat

217 4 - 6 yr children (48% boys, mean age = 5.2 yr)

Accelerometer: 10.8 h/d (at least 2 weekdays & 1 weekend day with at least 6 h/d)

Agility: obstacle course Balance: balance beam Aerobic fitness: 20-m shuttle run % body fat: BIA

PA was positively associated with motor skills and aerobic fitness at baseline as well as with the longitudinal changes. Specifically, only VPA was related to changes in aerobic fitness. Higher PA was associated with less %body fat at baseline, but not with its change.

Conversely, baseline motor skills, aerobic fitness or %body fat were not related to changes in PA.

Gabel et al. (2011)


15-month longitudinal study investigating the tracking of PA

17 3 - 5 yr children (59% boys, mean age = 4.4yr, mean BMI = 16.6, 23.5% overweight)

Accelerometer: 10.6 hr/d in ear 1 and 11.6 hr/d in year 2 (at least 5 hr/d, 4 days including at least 1 weekend day)


Total PA was not significantly different between year 1 and 2.

MVPA significantly increased at year 2.

Jago et al. (2005)


3-year longitudinal study examining the relationship between PA and sedentary behaviors

149 3 - 4 yr children (49% boys, mean age = 4.4yr, mean BMI = 15.5, 37% African American, 37% Anglo-American, 26% Hispanic)

Heart rate monitor (from 7 am to 7 pm with at least 504 min/d, HR >140 bpm as MVPA)

Observation using the Child’s Activity Rating Scale

Sex, sedentary behaviors (TV viewing and not TV viewing), and parental encouragement or discouragement for PA

Gender was not a significant predictor.

Sedentary behaviors, excluding TV viewing, significantly predicted heart-rate monitored PA.

Parental encouragement or discouragement was not a significant predictor of PA.

Jackson et al. (2003)


1-year longitudinal study describing normal developmental changes in PA

104 3 - 4yr children (50% boys, mean age = 3.7yr, only 60 children re-assessed after one year)

Accelerometer: 10.7 hr/d for 4.1 days (at least 6 hr/d, 3 days including 2 week days and 1 weekend day)

Sex, age, SES, and week days/weekend

At baseline, boys were significantly more active than girls.

Children’s PA significantly increased after 1 year.

There were not significant differences in activity level associated with SES and between weekday and weekend.

BMI was weakly associated with PA.

McKee et al. (2012) UK

1-year longitudinal study examining the influence of season and increasing age on objectively assessed PA and the stability of young children’s PA ranking

85 3 - 4 yr children (61% boys, only 37 children re-assessed after about one year)

Pedometer: at least 3 weekdays & 1 weekend day with at least 9 h/d)

Seasonal variable (spring and winter), parental duration of daily play with child, neighborhood safety, and the amount of time children spent outdoors

There was no evidence to support a gender difference in the PA levels. There was a substantive difference in the children’s PA between winter and spring. The duration of fathers’ daily play with children was related to winter PA, whereas having a safe place to play was related to spring PA. There is a main effect for year of measurement in weekly, weekday, and weekend PA (PA are greater at the age of 5).