Online Program

Encouraging Physical Activity in Preschool: How important is Fun?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Karen A. McDonnell, PhD, Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Loretta DiPietro, PhD, MPH, Department of Exercise Science, The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC
Stepheria Sallah, MPH, Department of Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health George Washington University, Washington, DC
Introduction: Policies that promote physical activity (PA) act as important equalizers in the health disparities found among minority preschoolers. Interventions need to start at younger ages to instill PA as a fun and liked activity for kids. While PA among children has been found to be decreasing, time spent in front of a screen is increasing. Methods: We compared preschoolers reported ‘fun’ and ‘like’ between two exergames; a cycling game and a dancing game compared to traditional games/activities (TG) on average energy expenditure (AEE) using accelerometry. Results: Participants were 3-6 years old from two inner-city charter schools in the District of Columbia. In total, 299 children (149 boys, 150 girls) played each of the activities and were asked how much fun they had and how much they liked each using a FACES visual analogue scale with a 5 point Likert Scale (1=not at all to 5= a lot).  Overall means and standard deviations for levels of fun and like for each game modality showed that exergames to be more fun and liked than TG and further supported by paired t-test and independent sample t-test results. The study did not find significant increases in AEE and preschoolers engaged in the TG on average two minutes longer than the two exergaming activities. Discussion: Our results demonstrate that liking and fun are not necessarily predictive of energy expenditure among preschoolers. However, exergames offer teachers an outlet for PA in a safe and fun atmosphere and provide opportunities for PA within children's school day.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the importance of policies to encourage physical activity amongst preschoolers. Discuss the role of preschoolers fun and liking an activity in physical activity Evaluate the role of activity video games (exergames) in the preschool environment.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator of the federally funded grant that serves as the basis for the abstract submission. I am an Associate Professor in a School of Public Health and have served as a PI/co-PI on a number of research projects in this and related content areas.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.