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Issue addressed: Physical inactivity is a growing health concern for children, with the potential to undermine their health and wellbeing. While a range of factors have been associated with physical inactivity, the contribution of time spent in sleep, structured activities and children’s social contexts has received limited attention. Methods: This cross-sectional study employed data from Wave 1 of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to examine the association between participation in physical activity and time spent in sleep, structured activity, and social contexts of 4-5 year old children. Results: Young children who were more physically active were found to participate less in structured activities on weekdays (β=-0.25, SE=0.05); spend more time with peers under adult supervision on weekends (β=0.36, SE=0.15); and have parents who themselves reported enjoying physical activity (β=-0.18, SE=0.06). Boys (β=-0.13, SE=0.05) and young children who spoke only English at home (β=-0.37, SE=0.11) were also found to be more physically active. Overall, young children participated in more physical activity on weekend days than weekdays (β=0.57, SE=0.04).Conclusions: Young children who are highly scheduled in structured activities on weekdays and those with limited adult involvement, especially on weekends, tend to be less physically active. Interventions that promote physical activity in young children therefore need to be family focused and encourage the engagement of parents.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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