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Measuring a child’s physical activity

Measuring a child's physical activity
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It is recommended that all young children should have the opportunity to move throughout the day. Specifically, it’s recommended that children aged between 3 and 5 years should spend at least three hours in physical activity every day. Given the spontaneous nature of play for young children, this activity should be spread throughout the day and should be made up of a number of different types and intensities of activity. Information about physical activity guidelines will be discussed in the next section. For now, we’ll talk about how children’s physical activity can be measured. Measuring how much time children spend in physical activity can be done in a number of ways, including questionnaires, activity monitors, and observations.
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The most accurate method of measuring physical activity for young children is using an activity monitor. Activity monitors record the amount and intensity of physical activity. Physical activity intensity can then be defined as light, moderate, or vigorous. Light intensity physical activity includes activities such as playing with toys, standing up and drawing, sitting on the floor and reading, playing dress ups, playing musical instruments, cleaning, and sitting playing games on a tablet. Moderate intensity activities includes things like walking, playing games, moving like an animal, bouncing and catching balls, hitting balloons in the air, playing and i-toy, rhyming songs, such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Vigorous intensity activity includes jogging, running, jumping, and bike riding.
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Children should have the opportunity to participate in different intensities of physical activity each day. A number of studies have reported on the amounts of time preschool children spend in different intensity physical activity. The most recent studies show that children aged three to five years spend about 70% of their time in sedentary behaviors, and 20% in light intensity physical activity. The time spent in moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity is around 10%. For children this age, participation in all intensities of physical activity are recommended. However, minimal time in sedentary behaviors is preferred. Modifying screen time and sedentary behaviors will be discussed in week three.

Measuring how much time children spend in physical activity can be done using questionnaires, activity monitors, and observations.

Activity monitors

Children aged between 3 and 5 years should spend at least three hours in physical activity every day. The most accurate method of measuring physical activity for young children is using an activity monitor. Activity monitors record the amount and intensity of physical activity (light, moderate, or vigorous).

Intensity of physical activity for children 3-5 years of age

It is recommended that children this age should participate in all intensities of physical activity, with minimal time spent in sedentary behaviours.

Studies show that children aged 3-5 years spend about 70% of their time in sedentary behaviours, 20% in light intensity physical activity, and 10% in moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity.

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