Habitual physical activity levels and sedentary time of children in different childcare arrangements from a nationally representative sample of Canadian preschoolers
Journal of Sport and Health Science
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Background: Children spend substantial time in childcare, and the reasons parents choose a particular childcare type may differ by family. However, little is known about how childcare type influences habitual (full day) activity levels among children. Therefore, exploring patterns between childcare type and habitual physical activity (PA) (i.e., light, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and total PA) and sedentary time (ST) in young Canadian children is needed. Methods: A nationally representative sample of preschoolers from Cycles 3 and 4 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey was used in this cross-sectional study. Childcare type (e.g., center-based childcare, home-based childcare, home with parent, kindergarten) was reported by parents. Preschoolers wore an Actical accelerometer for 7 days. Device and population-spcific cut-points were applied to delineate PA intensities and ST. Population means and sample totals were calculated to examine average daily and hourly rates of activity. Results: Preschoolers’ rates of MVPA and total PA from the 4 childcare arrangements ranged from 65.99 min/day to 74.62 min/day (5.48–6.18 min/h) and 274.20 min/day to 281.66 min/day 22.69–23.21 min/h), respectively, while ST ranged from 443.13 min/day to 460.57 min/day (36.80–37.31 min/h). No significant differences were observed in daily or hourly rates of activity. Conclusion: This study provides a snapshot of the levels of PA and ST among preschoolers in various childcare settings at a national level, with no differences observed in habitual activity levels based on childcare enrollment. Additional research is needed to clarify the relationship between young children's PA and childcare type, with consideration given to the quality of the childcare settings.