Physical activity measurement methods for young children: A comparative study
Many behavior patterns that impact on physical activity experiences are established in early childhood, therefore it is important that valid, reliable, and feasible measures are developed to identify children who are not developing appropriate and healthy activity habits. In this study, measures of physical activity derived by accelerometry and pedometry are compared with direct observation for twenty-four 5- and 6-year-old children. The children were monitored for 30 minutes over five consecutive days during a 30 minute free play session in their pre-primary setting. The results for all measures were significantly correlated. When compared to direct observation, the coefficient of determination indicated that the pedometer (R2 = .81) was able to more accurately predict all levels of physical activity than the accelerometer (R2 = .59). When the children were grouped into low, moderate and high activity levels using observation, the pedometer data was better able to separate the groups than the accelerometer data. These findings indicate that the pedometer is a better measure of free play physical activity in five- and six-year-old children than the accelerometer.
Hands, B. P., Parker, H., & Larkin, D. (2006). Physical activity measurement methods for young children: A comparative study. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 10(3), 203–214. doi: 10.1207/s15327841mpee1003_5