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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

An objective assessment of toddlers’ physical activity and sedentary levels: a cross-sectional study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Leigh M. Vanderloo, Patricia Tucker
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LMV and PT were involved with the conception, design, and implementation of the study. LMV carried out recruitment and data collection. LV drafted the manuscript, while PT provided revisions and comments on the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Authors’ information

Not applicable.



Little evidence exists on the physical activity and sedentary time of Canadian toddlers; this study objectively measured such behaviors and compared participants’ activity levels to national guidelines. Levels of screen-viewing among toddlers were also explored.


Forty toddlers (mean age = 25.7 months) wore Actical accelerometers for seven consecutive days (15 s epoch). Parents/guardians completed a wear-time log and a demographic and screen-viewing questionnaire. Descriptive analyses were used to determine participants’ levels of physical activity and sedentary time, to identify whether toddlers were meeting physical activity/sedentary guidelines, and to explore demographic variables. T-tests were used to assess whether toddlers’ activity levels differed based on cut-points applied and various demographic and screen-related variables. Regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between toddlers’ sedentary time and screen-viewing levels.


Toddlers engaged in 37.27 (SD = 3.79) to 49.40 (SD = 3.29) mins/hr of sedentary time, 9.79 (SD = 2.90) to 18.78 (SD = 3.22) mins/hr of light-intensity physical activity (LPA), 0.82 (SD = 0.72) to 3.95 (SD = 1.93) mins/hr of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), and 10.60 (SD =3.29) to 22.73 (SD = 3.97) mins/hr of total physical activity (TPA), based on the Trost et al. and the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) cut-points respectively; these rates were significantly different (p <.001). On at least 1 day, 17.5 % (Trost et al. cut-points) and 97.5 % (CHMS cut-points) of the sample met or exceeded the Canadian physical activity guidelines. No statistically significant differences in sedentary time or physical activity (all intensities) based on sex were reported (p <.001); however, LPA (CHMS cut-points) did significantly differ based on childcare attendance (p <.05). Approximately 93.2 % of participants watched television, and 56.8 % utilized computers. Only 18.8 and 25.0 % of children under 2 years and 70.8 and 62.5 % of 2–3 years olds met the screen-use recommendation of the sedentary behavior guidelines on weekdays and weekend days, respectively.

Discussion and conclusion

The implications of this work suggest that a greater understanding of toddlers’ activity patterns is needed; additional mechanisms of promoting active behaviors among this group should be explored.
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