Step Count Targets Corresponding to New Physical Activity Guidelines for the Early Years

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PurposeNew physical activity guidelines recommend that children age 3–4 yr should accumulate at least 180 min of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day, including progression toward at least 60 min of energetic play by 5 yr of age. Step count targets corresponding to these recommendations will help practitioners and researchers monitor physical activity.MethodsOne hundred thirty-three preschoolers were instructed to wear accelerometers for seven consecutive days. Activity and step count data were recorded in 3-s epochs. Step count targets equivalent to physical activity recommendations were derived using prediction equations from regression analyses. Receiver operating curve analyses were conducted to compare the sensitivity and specificity of the derived thresholds as well as a range of other targets.ResultsThe daily step count target derived for 180 min of physical activity of any intensity was 6013 ± 88, whereas the target for 180 min of physical activity of any intensity including at least 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was 6191 ± 103. The smallest discrepancy between days meeting physical activity guidelines and step count targets was found with a 6000-step-per-day target. Receiver operating curves confirmed a balanced sensitivity and specificity of this target.ConclusionsOn the basis of our data, we suggest that a new step count target of 6000 steps per day should be used to determine whether 3- to 5-yr-old children are meeting physical activity recommendations.

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