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An Objective Assessment of Toddlers' Physical Activity and Sedentary Levels
BMC Public Health (2015)
  • Patricia Tucker, Western University
  • Leigh Vanderloo

Background Little evidence exists on the physical activity and sedentary time of Canadian toddlers; this study objectively measured such behaviors and compared participants’ activity levels to national guidelines. Levels of screen-viewing among toddlers were also explored. Methods Forty toddlers (mean age = 25.7 months) wore Actical accelerometers for seven consecutive days (15 s epoch). Parents/guardians completed a wear-time log and a demographic and screen-viewing questionnaire. Descriptive analyses were used to determine participants’ levels of physical activity and sedentary time, to identify whether toddlers were meeting physical activity/sedentary guidelines, and to explore demographic variables. T-tests were used to assess whether toddlers’ activity levels differed based on cut-points applied and various demographic and screen-related variables. Regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between toddlers’ sedentary time and screen-viewing levels. Results Toddlers engaged in 37.27 (SD = 3.79) to 49.40 (SD = 3.29) mins/hr of sedentary time, 9.79 (SD = 2.90) to 18.78 (SD = 3.22) mins/hr of light-intensity physical activity (LPA), 0.82 (SD = 0.72) to 3.95 (SD = 1.93) mins/hr of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), and 10.60 (SD =3.29) to 22.73 (SD = 3.97) mins/hr of total physical activity (TPA), based on the Trost et al. and the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) cut-points respectively; these rates were significantly different (p <.001). On at least 1 day, 17.5 % (Trost et al. cut-points) and 97.5 % (CHMS cut-points) of the sample met or exceeded the Canadian physical activity guidelines. No statistically significant differences in sedentary time or physical activity (all intensities) based on sex were reported (p <.001); however, LPA (CHMS cut-points) did significantly differ based on childcare attendance (p <.05). Approximately 93.2 % of participants watched television, and 56.8 % utilized computers. Only 18.8 and 25.0 % of children under 2 years and 70.8 and 62.5 % of 2–3 years olds met the screen-use recommendation of the sedentary behavior guidelines on weekdays and weekend days, respectively. Discussion and Conclusion The implications of this work suggest that a greater understanding of toddlers’ activity patterns is needed; additional mechanisms of promoting active behaviors among this group should be explored.

Publication Date
September, 2015
Citation Information
Patricia Tucker and Leigh Vanderloo. "An Objective Assessment of Toddlers' Physical Activity and Sedentary Levels" BMC Public Health (2015)
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