Step based physical activity guidelines for preschool-aged children

Susana Vale, Stewart G. Trost, Michael J. Duncan, Jorge Mota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Objective Public health organizations recommend that preschool-aged children accumulate at least 3 h of physical activity (PA) daily. Objective monitoring using pedometers offers an opportunity to measure preschooler's PA and assess compliance with this recommendation. The purpose of this study was to derive step-based recommendations consistent with the 3 h PA recommendation for preschool-aged children. Method The study sample comprised 916 preschool-aged children, aged 3 to 6 years (mean age = 5.0 ± 0.8 years). Children were recruited from kindergartens located in Portugal, between 2009 and 2013. Children wore an ActiGraph GT1M accelerometer that measured PA intensity and steps per day simultaneously over a 7-day monitoring period. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to identify the daily step count threshold associated with meeting the daily 3 hour PA recommendation. Results A significant correlation was observed between minutes of total PA and steps per day (r = 0.76, p <0.001). The optimal step count for ≥ 3 h of total PA was 9099 steps per day (sensitivity (90%) and specificity (66%)) with area under the ROC curve = 0.86 (95% CI: 0.84 to 0.88). Conclusion Preschool-aged children who accumulate less than 9000 steps per day may be considered Insufficiently Active.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78–82
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date18 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Preventive Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Preventive Medicine [Vol:70 (2015)] DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.008.


  • physical activity guidelines
  • steps
  • preschool children


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