Let's have some adventures! Increasing pre-school children’s physical activity levels with a role-modelling intervention
Wouldn't it be good if regular periods of fun activity became a part of preschoolers' daily routine? The nursery version of the Dynamic Dudes, presently in development, aims to achieve just this.
Even though it is known that patterns of sedentary behaviour track from childhood to adulthood, and that higher levels of physical activity are associated with positive health outcomes throughout life, few pre-school children achieve the recommended 180 minutes of daily activity in the UK. Developing effective fun and engaging interventions is fundamental to harnessing children’s intrinsic motivation to participate in physical activity that should track into their later lives.
In our newest research strand, pre-school children (aged 3 – 4 years) participated in a proof-of-principle nursery-based role-modelling intervention in North Wales. Children's activities were evoked daily by modelling movies in which the four Food Dudes Junior characters led energetic activities in four interactive stories (10 – 12 minutes) and four in-class exercise videos (Levels 1 - 10). Children's step counts were compared to standard nursery practice. Fitbit zip accelerometers measured children’s school day physical activity and anthropometric measures were taken pre- and post-intervention.
Preliminary results show that the intervention was successful in increasing the children’s physical activity levels, and was well received by children and staff in the participating nursery classes. Next, we plan to administer a controlled evaluation of the short- and long-term effects of this new intervention in Wales.
This research had been supported by a School of Psychology scholarship and a Widening Access grant awarded to Catherine Sharp, working with Prof Horne and Dr Erjavec. We are thankful to all the nurseries, children and parents who took part.