Physical activity contributes to prevent serious diseases and ailments, and previous research indicates that lifestyle habits are likely to track from early childhood to adulthood. 90% of Norwegian children aged 1-5 are enrolled in preschools, and preschool staff can play an important role in children's activity levels. This study's aim was to identify whether any associations exist between preschool staff's characteristics (initiative, participation, attitudes, and activity levels) and children's activity in preschool.
289 children aged 4-6 and 72 preschool staff from 13 randomly selected preschools in a region of Nord-Troendelag, Norway, were enrolled in the study. All participants wore an Actigraph accelerometer for seven consecutive days. Questionnaires were also utilized to identify correlates between preschool staff's attitudes and initiative in relation to children's physical activity, in addition to their participation in children's physical activity. A multilevel analysis, the linear mixed model (LMM), was used to elucidate associations between preschool staff and children's activity levels.
A significant association was found between preschool staff's average activity levels during preschool hours and children's corresponding activity levels during preschool hours (t = 2.57; p = 0.021; f2 = 0.013). There were, however, no significant associations identified between the attitudes (t = -0.44; p = 0.67), initiative (t = -0.14; p = 0.89), and participation (t = 0.66; p = 0.52) variables among preschool staff and children's activity levels during preschool hours.
The study demonstrated that a significant association exists between preschool staff's aggregated activity levels and 4-6-year-olds' individual activity levels. However, an observational study is requisite in order to determine whether the association is based on preschool staff's impact on children's physical activity or if it is the children that affect the preschool staff's activity levels, or a combination thereof.