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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Preschoolers' Activity Declines Between Ages 3 and 5

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Activity levels in both boys and girls change and plunge before kindergarten

INDIANAPOLIS –  While childhood obesity rates continue to spike, physical activity levels in preschool-aged children decline, contributing to the problem of energy balance for kids.  According to research published in the January 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), this shows the significant reduction in activity levels appears to occur between the ages of 3 and 4-5.

The study also found that children in this age range spent approximately 90 minutes per day in front of screens, including television, computers or video games. They also spent another 90 minutes per day in other sedentary activities, such as reading, drawing and listening to music.

Although assessment of physical activity in this age range can be difficult to determine due to its intermittent nature and lack of structured play, the research team determined a protocol to objectively measure the children and ascertain information from their parents. Parents were asked to estimate the amount of time spent each week in various activities, including dancing, biking, playing at a playground, participating in organized activities, swimming, as well as their children’s sedentary activities.

As part of the Family Lifestyle, Activity, Movement and Eating (FLAME) study in New Zealand, 244 children were enrolled just before their third birthday. They were seen annually at 3, 4 and 5, as close to their birthdays as possible. During these visits, accelerometers were placed on the child and monitored for five consecutive days.

Regardless of the choice of activity measure, physical activity declined as the children grew older; their measurements were significantly lower at ages 4 and 5 compared with that observed at age 3.

“One opportunity we get by way of these results is to narrow in on an age range where we can really encourage healthy habits for very young children,” said Rachael Taylor, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “That is going to mean turning some of that screen time into activity time, where kids are running, jumping and playing. Or, more specifically, considering that target age range of 4 and 5, it is probably the right time to encourage more outside play where possible, or enroll a child in gymnastics, tennis or another structured activity in order to increase their exposure to physical activity.”

ACSM and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that children and young adults under the age of 18 be active for 60 minutes each day. For more information, or to customize an exercise program, visit


The  American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.  More than 20,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

NOTE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 41, No. 1, pages 96-102) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 127 or 133. Visit ACSM online at

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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