J. New1, S.B. Sisson1, S. Arnold2, K.D. DuBose3, A. Knehans1. 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, 2Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, and 3Department of Kinesiology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; email: Joshua-New@ouhsc.edu

Greater participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (PA) is associated with higher motor skill abilities in preschool-aged children, but previous studies have measured motor skills with lengthy test batteries and not a more feasible and accessible screening instrument. Sedentary activity (SA) and motor skills have been studied, but no known relationship exists. Furthermore, body mass index (BMI) is not associated with motor skills; however, gross motor skills only have been previously measured. PURPOSE: To determine the association of PA across the intensity spectrum (sedentary, light, moderate, and vigorous) and BMI percentile with motor skills in preschool-aged children at childcare. METHODS: Children 3-5 years of age were recruited from childcare centers in urban and rural Oklahoma for this cross-sectional study. Children wore an accelerometer for 1-2 days while at childcare. BMI percentile was calculated from measured height and weight. A motor screening tool was used to assess both gross and fine motor skills, which were summed into a motor domain score (MDS). Linear regression was used to examine the relationship between activity, BMI percentile, and MDS. RESULTS: The sample included 159 participants (52.8% male; 4.3 ± 0.8 years; BMI percentile M=66.2 ± 28.4; 35.2% overweight or obese, ≥85th percentile). The mean duration of accelerometry wear time was 365.9 ± 100.5 minutes/day (6.1 ± 1.7 hours/day). After controlling for wear time, light PA (β=0.283, t(2)=2.67, p<0.01), vigorous PA (β=0.245, t(2)=2.76, p<0.01), and BMI percentile (β=-0.296, t(1)=-3.874, p<0.001) were significantly related to MDS. SA and moderate PA were not associated with MDS. Light PA (R2=0.06, F(2,156)=5.14, p<0.01), vigorous PA (R2=0.07, F(2,156)=5.40, p<0.01), and BMI percentile (R2=0.07, F(2,156)=5.40, p<0.01) each attributed to a significant proportion of variance in MDS. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that light PA, vigorous PA, and BMI percentile are associated with motor skills in this population. Specifically, light and vigorous PA were greater and BMI percentile was lower when MDS was higher. Childcare centers should encourage children to engage in activity conducive to motor skill development.

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