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Effectiveness of Physical Activity Interventions for Preschoolers: A Meta-Analysis
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (2013)
  • Patricia Tucker, Western University
  • Elliott S Gordon
  • Shauna M Burke, Western University
  • Albert V Carron, Western University

Purpose: The purpose of the meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of physical activity interventions on physical activity participation among preschoolers. A secondary purpose was to investigate the influence of several possible moderator variables (e.g., intervention length, location, leadership, type) on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Method: Nine databases were systematically searched for physical activity interventions. Studies were included if they contained statistics necessary to compute an effect size (ES), were written in or translated into English, examined physical activity in preschoolers, incorporated a physical activity intervention, and targeted preschool-aged children. Fifteen studies satisfied these criteria. ESs were calculated using a random-effects model. Results: Results indicated that overall, interventions had a small-to-moderate effect on general physical activity (Hedges g = 0.44, p < .05, n = 73 ESs) and a moderate effect on MVPA (Hedges g = 0.51, p < .05, n = 39 ESs). The greatest effects for MVPA were identified for interventions that were less than 4 weeks in duration, were offered in an early-learning environment, were led by teachers, involved outdoor activity, and incorporated unstructured activity. Conclusions: This meta-analysis provides an overview and synthesis of physical activity interventions and highlights effective strategies for future interventions aimed at increasing physical activity levels among preschoolers.

  • efficacy,
  • exercise,
  • meta-analysis,
  • young children
Publication Date
Summer August 22, 2013
Citation Information
Gordon,S.E., Tucker,P., Burke,S.M., Carron,A.B. "Effectiveness of physical activity interventions for preschoolers: A meta-analysis" Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 84.3 (2013): 287-294.