Associations between gross motor skills and physical activity in Australian toddlers
Objectives: Physical activity can be promoted by high levels of gross motor skills. A systematic review found a positive relationship in children (3-18 years) but only few studies examined this in younger children. The aim of this study was to examine the association between gross motor skills and physical activity in children aged 11-29 months. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: This study involved 284 children from 30 childcare services in NSW, Australia (Mean age = 19.77. ±. 4.18. months, 53.2% boys). Physical activity was measured using accelerometers (Actigraph GT3X+). Gross motor skills were assessed using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales Second Edition (PDMS-2). Multilevel linear regression analyses were computed to assess associations between gross motor skills and physical activity, adjusting for sex, age and BMI. Results: Children spent 53.08% of their time in physical activity and 10.39% in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Boys had higher total physical activity (p < 0.01) and MVPA (p < 0.01) than girls. The average gross motor skills score was 96.16. Boys scored higher than girls in object manipulation (p < . 0.001). There was no association between gross motor skills and total physical activity or MVPA. Conclusions: Although gross motor skills were not associated with physical activity in this sample, stronger associations are apparent in older children. This study therefore highlights a potential important age to promote gross motor skills.