Associations between South African preschoolers’ routine physical activity, self-regulation and psychosocial well-being

Publication Name

Mental Health and Physical Activity


Physical activity (PA) is an essential health behaviour with a wide range of benefits, including the potential for a beneficial association with self-regulation and psychosocial well-being. However, evidence for this relationship remains scarce in the preschool age-group and in low-income countries. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the relationship between self-regulation and psychosocial well-being on the one hand and objectively measured, free-living PA in 119 preschool children (M = 50.7 months, SD = 8.4) on the other from low-income settings in South Africa. PA was objectively measured using accelerometry and teacher-report ratings of self-regulation and psychosocial well-being were collected. Results revealed that time spent in both TPA (B = −0.233, p = 0.005) and MVPA (B = −0.181, p = 0.039) was negatively associated with self-regulation skills. Additionally, time spent in TPA (B = 0.180, p = 0.034) was positively (detrimentally) associated with externalising behaviour problems. This study suggests a negative association between self-regulation as well as externalising behaviour and PA, but also highlights the need for more comprehensive and longitudinal research in low and middle-income countries, taking into consideration the nature and context of free-living PA in these settings in order to better understand these relationships and their potential confounds. age

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Sponsor

British Academy



Link to publisher version (DOI)