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Changes in volume and bouts of physical activity and sedentary time across early childhood: a longitudinal study

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posted on 14.05.2019, 00:00 authored by Jill HnatiukJill Hnatiuk, Karen Lamb, Nicky RidgersNicky Ridgers, Jo SalmonJo Salmon, Kylie HeskethKylie Hesketh
BACKGROUND: Understanding changes in physical activity and sedentary time (SED) during early childhood may provide insights into how to effectively promote a healthy start to life. This study examined changes in total volume and bouts of SED, light- (LPA), and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) across early childhood, and explored differences in change between boys and girls. METHODS: Data were drawn from 330 children participating in the Melbourne InFANT Program, collected between 2008 and 2013 and analysed in 2017. Children's physical activity and SED were assessed for at least 7 days at each timepoint using ActiGraph GT1M accelerometers at 19 months, 3.5 and 5 years of age. Total volume of SED (≤100 counts per minute [CPM]), LPA (101-1680 CPM) and MVPA (≥1681 CPM) were expressed as a percentage of wear time, and the frequency (number of bouts/day) and duration (mins/bout) of SED, LPA and MVPA bouts ≥1 min were calculated at each time point. Multilevel models with random intercepts and slopes were used to examine changes in total volume and bouts of SED, LPA and MVPA for boys and girls. RESULTS: Compared to aged 19 months, children's total volume of SED and LPA decreased at 3.5 and 5 years old, while MVPA increased. The frequency of SED bouts at 3.5 and 5 years was greater than at 19 months, but the duration was shorter. Additionally, the frequency and duration of LPA bouts was lower and MVPA bout frequency and duration was greater at 3.5 and 5 years. In general, there was no evidence of sex differences in trajectories of children's physical activity and SED. However, variations in trajectory were observed at the individual child level. CONCLUSIONS: Children's total volume and bouts of SED, LPA and MVPA change across early childhood, mostly in a favourable direction. Trajectories appear to be similar for boys and girls. Investigation of individual variation in trajectories is likely to provide greater insight into associations between physical activity and future health and behavioural outcomes.



International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity





Article number



BioMed Central


London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2019, The Authors