Hannah Parker, Sarah Burkart, Layton Reesor-Oyer, Michal T. Smith, Lauren von Klinggraeff, Roddrick Dugger, James W. White III, Olivia Finnegan, Meghan Bastyr, Christopher D. Pfledderer, Elizabeth L. Adams, R. Glenn Weaver, Michael W. Beets, Bridget Armstrong. University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

BACKGROUND: Higher levels of physical activity (PA), are associated with positive health outcomes among children. Structured environments, such as daycare/preschool, may be a potential mechanism for promoting healthy behaviors and limiting discretionary time when children may engage in unhealthy behaviors; however, the literature examining the relationship between daycare/preschool and children engaging in PA has been mixed and limited in examination at the day-level. Understanding the potential role structure may have as a mechanism to improve movement behaviors of preschool-aged children may guide the development of effective intervention strategies. The current study used intensive longitudinal data to examine the within- and between-person effects of hours spent in daycare/preschool (i.e., structure) on children’s physical activity. METHODS: Children (N=67, 4.5±0.8 yrs, 49.3% female, 65.7% White) wore an Axivity AX3 accelerometer on their wrist 24 hours/day for 14 days. Data were processed with GGIR (v2.6-4) with the Roscoe et al. (2017) intensity thresholds for preschoolers. Caregivers reported the number of hours their child attended daycare/preschool each day. We ran linear mixed-effects models predicting day-level moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and light physical activity (LPA) from hours spent in daycare. We included child age, sex, and wear-time as covariates. Weekends were excluded from analysis. RESULTS: Children wore accelerometers for an average of 9.3±1.2 (range = 1-11) days and 59 children attended daycare/preschool on at least one day. Children spent an average of 4.6±3.9 hrs/day in daycare/preschool and had an average of 120.7±30.0 min of MVPA/day and an average of 118.0±33.8 min of LPA/day. Mixed models indicated that for every 1-hour extra children spent in daycare/preschool above their own average daycare/preschool time, children had 1.1 min (95%CI = 0.25, 1.93) more MVPA/day and 1.4 min (95%CI = 0.65, 2.19) more LPA/day. CONCLUSION: On days when children attend more hours of daycare/preschool, beyond their typical daycare/preschool time, they have more minutes of MVPA and LPA. Daycare/preschool, as a source of structure, may be a day-level contextual factor to help improve movement behaviors in children. Future studies should examine the impact of structure from daycare/preschool on other movement behaviors such as sleep and sedentary behavior.

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