Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time among Children in Japan before and during COVID-19: A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analysis

Publication Name

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


This study examined changes in physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), screen time, sleep, and executive function among Japanese preschoolers between COVID-19 pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, using cross-sectional and longitudinal data. Accelerometer data from 63 children aged 5–6 years were collected from three kindergartens in Tokyo, Japan, in late 2019 (pre-COVID-19). This was compared to the data of 49 children aged 5–6 years from the same kindergartens, collected in late 2020 (during COVID-19). Sixteen children in the pre-COVID-19 cohort also participated in the 2020 survey and provided data for the longitudinal analysis. The mean minutes of PA, SB, screen time, and sleep duration, as well as executive function, were compared between the pre- and during COVID-19 cohorts. After adjusting for school, sex, and accelerometer wear time, there were no significant differences in any of the measured outcomes between the two cohorts. However, the analysis of longitudinal data revealed significant increases in time spent in SB and on screens, and a decrease in light-intensity PA and sleep duration during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period. Results suggest that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, young children’s activity levels and SB did not significantly differ from pre-pandemic levels. However, school-aged children’s SB, light PA, and sleep time were affected, although this cannot be disentangled from the effects of the transition to school.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science



Link to publisher version (DOI)