Results in the HAPPY-study indicate that preschool children spend 85% of waking time being sedentary (Hinkley et al., 2012), and less than 50% of the children meets physical activity (PA) guidelines
and recommendations (Tucker, 2008; Nicaise et al., 2011). The findings of the baseline study (E1) in the “KinderGarten”-project (8 kindergartens, n=333 children; Diketmueller et al., 2014) showed
significant differences in PA-levels between girls and boys, esp. of boys with migrant background (highest proportions of time in MVPA). Whereas the offer of specific physical activity programs was
associated with higher PA levels of both sexes, large-sized outdoor areas did not automatically lead to higher levels of PA. So the intervention focused on spatial changes, regulations of using the
spaces as well as pedagogical concepts.
In the evaluation study (E2) of the project physical activity behavior of children in 4 kindergartens (2,5-6yrs) was collected on three time-points during outdoor play time through direct observation,
where types of activity of girls and boys were identified and integrated into maps of activities. In addition, PA was measured by accelerometer (n=140). The results (maps of activity) and the
accelerometer data were compared with the findings of the baseline study.
Based on a methodological triangulation, the comparison of the findings of the baseline and evaluation study (E1, E2) illustrates changes in PA behavior due to spatial, organizational and pedagogical
changes: markings led to less conflicts between children, to larger –scaled activities in the outdoor area and to a significant increase of steps of girls. Changes in regulations, like the allowance
of using secluded or “hidden” spaces (e.g. behind trees, bushes, …) empowered the children to explore new spaces, enlarged the number of activity patterns and increased significantly the amount of PA
of girls and boys.
The discussion of the results with kindergarten teachers show who important the discussion and visualization of results in activity maps of each kindergarten and the accelerometer-derived physical
activity data were to ensure awareness of kindergarten teachers.
Diketmueller R, et al (2014). Physical activity of girls and boys in outdoor play areas of Kindergarten. ECSS Book of abstracts Amsterdam.
Hinkley T, et al (2012). The HAPPY Study. JSMS 15, 407-417.
Nicaise V, Kahan D, Sallis J. (2011). Correlates of MVPA among preschoolers during unstructured outdoor play periods. PrevMed 53, 309-315.
Tucker P (2008). The physical activity levels of preschool-aged-children: a systematic review. Early Childhood Res Q, 23(4), 547-558.