Children's Types of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in Day Care Environment during Outdoor Play over the Course of Four Seasons in Finland
Self archived versionpublished version
MetadataShow full item record
CitationIlvonen, S. Niemistö, D. Sääkslahti, A. (2019). Children's Types of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in Day Care Environment during Outdoor Play over the Course of Four Seasons in Finland. Physical education in early childhood education and care : researches - best practices - situation, 109-122.
Habitual physical activity of a young child can be described as play. Outdoor environments are optimal for play as they allow children to move according to their own curiosity and imagination. The amount and quality of the outdoor play reflects the child's habitual physical activity (PA). There is little research data on the amount and quality of children’s PA in a day care environment during free outdoor play.
The purpose of this study was to examine how much time children spend on different types of PA and sedentary behaviour (SB) in day care environment during outdoor play during all four seasons in Finland. Secondly, the purpose was to examine the interindividual variability of outdoor play PA in different seasons. Methods: Twelve children were individually videotaped for 60 minutes in a day care center yard during free outdoor play in the autumn, winter, spring and summer. Data analysed using direct observation software that coded the duration of time (s) spent in the PA and SB categories. Results: Children’s proportion of time spent doing light activities and games was 64%–69% depending on the season. The proportion of moderate-to-vigorous activities and games (MVPA) was lowest (3%) in the autumn and highest in the spring (8%). Continuous walking or running was almost non-existent (0-1%) in every season. The same was true of riding a swing (0-1%), except in the summer, when it increased to 7%. Children’s SB (lying down, sitting and standing) was high, ranging from 22%–25% depending on season. The differences between the individual children in the proportion of time spent in MVPA were substantial, ranging from 0%–32% depending on season. The differences in individuals’ sedentary time were also considerable, ranging from 1%–44%, except in the summer, when the differences were low (2%–4%). Conclusion: Based on the findings, we suggest that educators note the interindividual variability in PA behaviour and encourage each individual child to engage in physically active outdoor play in all four seasons.