Multivariate physical activity association patterns for fundamental motor skills and physical fitness in preschool children aged 3–5 years

Publication Name

Journal of Sports Sciences


Physical activity (PA) is important for children’s development of fundamental motor skills (FMS) and physical fitness (FIT) but evidence regarding which intensities are associated with these outcomes in early childhood is limited. The aim of this study was to determine the cross-sectional multivariate PA intensity signatures associated with FMS and FIT in children aged 3–5 years. We used a sample of 952 Norwegian preschoolers (4.3 years, 51% boys) who provided data on PA (ActiGraph GT3X+), at least one FMS (locomotor, object control and/or balance skills) or FIT (speed agility, standing long jump, and/or handgrip strength) outcome, body mass index, and socioeconomic status in 2019–2020. We created 17 PA intensity variables (0–99 to ≥15000 counts per minute) from the vertical axis and used multivariate pattern analysis for analyses. The PA intensity spectrum (including sedentary time) was significantly associated with all outcomes. Associations for PA intensities were positive (negative for sedentary time), strongest for moderate and vigorous intensities, and were significant across sex and age groups. Our findings show that the PA intensity spectrum is associated with FMS and FIT in young children and that promotion of PA, in particular moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, from an early age benefits children’s physical development.

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