Physical Activity Levels and Patterns of 19-Month-Old Children

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Abstract

Purpose

It is a commonly held perception that most young children are naturally active and meet physical activity recommendations. However, there is no scientific evidence available on which to confirm or refute such perceptions. The purpose of this study was to describe the physical activity levels and patterns of Australian toddlers.

Methods

Physical activity and demographic data of two hundred ninety-five 19-month-old children from the Melbourne InFANT Program were measured using accelerometers and parent surveys. Validated cut points of 192–1672 and >1672 counts per minute were used to determine time spent in light- (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous- (MVPA) intensity physical activity, respectively. To be included in the analysis, children were required to have four valid days of accelerometer data to provide an acceptable (>0.70) reliability estimate of LPA and MVPA. Physical activity data for different periods of the day were examined.

Results

On average, toddlers engaged in 184 min of LPA and 47 min of MVPA daily, and 90.5% met the current Australian physical activity recommendations for 0- to 5-yr-olds (180 min of LPA/MVPA per day). Physical activity levels during mid morning and mid afternoon were higher than those during other periods. Physical activity patterns for boys and girls were similar, although boys engaged in more physical activity during the morning hours than girls did.

Conclusions

Most children meet the physical activity recommendations, although the majority of activity undertaken in the study was of light intensity. Boys were more active than girls were in the morning hours, but there were no differences between sexes over the entire day. Certain periods of the day may hold more promise for intervention implementation than others do.

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