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Social and Environmental Factors Associated With Preschoolers’ Nonsedentary Physical Activity


  • Preparation of this article was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Grant R01 HD43125-01. The content and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the University of South Carolina, the NICHD, or the NIH, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

concerning this article should be addressed to William H. Brown, Department of Educational Studies, University of South Carolina, 820 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29208. Electronic mail may be sent to


The twofold purposes of the investigation were (a) to describe with direct observation data the physical activity behaviors and the accompanying social and environmental events of those behaviors for children in preschools and (b) to determine which contextual conditions were predictors of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and nonsedentary physical activity (i.e., light activity + MVPA) for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children during their outdoor play. The results indicate that preschoolers’ physical activity is characterized as sedentary in nature throughout their preschool day (i.e., 89% sedentary, 8% light activity, and 3% MVPA). During outdoor play periods, when children are most likely to be physically active, some contextual and social circumstances better predict their physical activity. Implications for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers are discussed.

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