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Physical activity and sedentary time during childcare outdoor play sessions: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Preventive Medicine (2018)
  • Stephanie Truelove
  • Brianne A. Bruijns
  • Leigh M. Vanderloo
  • Kathleen T. O'Brien
  • Andrew M. Johnson, University of Western Ontario
  • Patricia Tucker
Outdoor playtime has been highly correlated with moderate-to vigorous–intensity physical activity (MVPA), while also being associated with decreased sedentary time. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to examine the physical activity levels and sedentary time of young children (2–5 years) during outdoor play periods at centre-based childcare. Eight online databases were searched for peer-reviewed, English-language, original research. Two reviewers independently extracted data (study design, participants, method of measurement, and physical activity and/or sedentary time of participants). Time spent in outdoor activity intensities were converted to percentage of time, and averaged across the two measurement types: accelerometry and observational. Of the 26 included articles, 11 used accelerometry, 13 employed direct observation, and 2 adopted a combination of both measurement methods. Average percentage of time engaged in MVPA and sedentary pursuits ranged from 6.7% to 43% and 23.2% to 63.5% by accelerometry, and 2% to 53.9% and 46.1% to 80.2% by observation, respectively. Total physical activity (only measured by accelerometry) ranged from 23.2% to 63.5% of outdoor playtime. Meta-analysis of 11 accelerometer studies found that children spent a mean (95% CI) of: 13.99% (10.35–17.63) of outdoor playtime in MVPA, 43.77% (32.95–54.58) in TPA, and 52.81% (44.1–61.51) in sedentary time. Overall, young children have the potential to be highly active during outdoor play sessions at centre-based childcare; however, many children still engage in substantial amounts of sedentary time. Future research should explore the frequency and/or duration of outdoor time which best support young children's physical activity and limits sedentary time in childcare.
  • Physical activity,
  • Sedentary time,
  • Childcare,
  • Young children,
  • Outdoor play,
  • Systematic review,
  • Meta-analysis
Publication Date
Spring March, 2018
Citation Information
Stephanie Truelove, Brianne A. Bruijns, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Kathleen T. O'Brien, et al.. "Physical activity and sedentary time during childcare outdoor play sessions: A systematic review and meta-analysis" Preventive Medicine Vol. 108 (2018) p. 74 - 85
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