578. Tracking of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity in Early Childhood
Commentary: Bethany Walker, National Heart Foundation
This paper examines the extent of physical activity tracking amongst young boys and girls aged 3-7 years longitudinally for five years. Tracking refers to the maintenance of a behaviour or measure over time and allows for key patterns and time periods where interventions are most effective to be identified.
Triaxial accelerometer and demographic data was collected from 234 three-year-old children every four months until the age of 7. Average physical activity levels and inactivity levels were recorded for each year of age and adjusted for accelerometer wear time.
At the age of 3 years the average total physical activity (TPA) was 443,000 counts p/day and moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and inactivity (IA) were 85 min/day and 281 min/day respectively. By the age of 7, TPA and MVPA had decreased to 416,000 counts and 80 min/day respectively and IA had increased to 295 min/day. Tracking behaviours varied by sex. Boys who engaged in MVPA from the age of 3 years were more likely to remain active as they grew older. However active 3-year-old girls did not continue being as active over the following years. In boys and girls physical activity levels remained constant from age 3-5 however from age 5-7 physical activity decreased and inactivity increased.
These results demonstrate the importance of encouraging physical activity from early childhood as those who were inactive at 3 maintained or increased their inactivity later on in life. Future research is needed to investigate potential reasons for the differences in tracking of physical activity amongst boys and girls in order for targeted interventions to be designed.
Source: Pediatric Exercise Science, 2013, 25: 487 – 501. Access to the full article will depend on your institutional rights. Click here for the full article.