Physical activity in young children during outdoor and indoor free playing time and in physical education lessons in preschools

Chiaki Tanaka, Takafumi Ando, Chiyoko Usui, Yuki Hikihara, Reiko Sasaki, Takayo Inayama, Shigeho Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The primary aim of this study was to examine moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) levels in preschool children during indoor and outdoor free playing time and during preschool physical education (PE) classes. The secondary aim was to determine which types of PE lessons are the best for increasing the percentage of MVPA. Physical activity during free playing time and in lessons was objectively evaluated with a triaxial accelerometer in preschool boys and girls (n = 281). Minutes of physical activity were categorized into physical activity ratios (PAR). MVPA was defined as PAR ≥3.0. Time tables and PE lesson types were recorded using logs kept by class teachers. The percentage of MVPA in outdoor free playing time (38.9±16.3%) was significantly higher than that of indoor free playing time (12.6±10.1%, p<0.001). On the other hand, there was no significant difference between the percentage in MVPA in outdoor free playing time and the percentage in PE lessons (n=94: 38.0±19.4%vs. 34.9±15.8%, ns). After adjustment for gender, age, body height and weight and preschool, there were not significantly different the percentage of MVPA among contents of PE lessons. In conclusion, children engaged in almost 30~40% MVPA during outdoor free playing time or PE. The children also engaged MVPA during indoor free playing time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalJapanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1



  • Indoor free play
  • Outdoor free play
  • Physical activity
  • Physical education
  • Preschool child

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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