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© Borgis - New Medicine 1/2014, s. 3-11
*Wojciech Chalcarz, Sylwia Merkiel
Analysis of physical activity in preschool children from Piła. Part 1. Ordinary and additional physical activity and favourite ways of spending leisure time**
Food and Nutrition Department of the Eugeniusz Piasecki University School of Physical Education in Poznań, Poland
Head of the Department: prof. dr hab. Wojciech Chalcarz
Summary
Aim. The aim of this study was to analyse ordinary and additional physical activity in preschool children from Piła and to investigate their favourite ways of spending leisure time.
Material and methods. Parents of 165 preschoolers from Piła filled in questionnaires on general information about their children and their families, the children’s ordinary and additional physical activity, and their favourite ways of spending leisure time. Statistical analysis was performed by the IBM SPSS Statistics 21 computer programme. The studied population was divided according to gender.
Results. Gender had statistically significant influence on parents’ answers to the questions about familial osteoporosis and about their opinion on their children’s body weight, as well as the percentages of children who preferred playing with a ball and rollerblading/roller skating during sunny weather and drawing/painting, playing with building blocks, playing computer games, playing with dolls and playing with toy cars during rainy weather.
Conclusions. In comparison to the previously studied preschool children from other regions of Poland, the studied preschoolers from Piła were characterised by reduced ordinary and additional physical activity. To reverse these unfavourable changes, it is necessary to educate preschoolers’ parents, preschool staff and local authorities about the possibilities of increasing the children’s physical activity and reducing their time spent in a passive way. Children, irrespective of gender, should be encouraged to various kinds of physical activity.
INTRODUCTION
Although it has been as many as 33 years since the first Polish publication which emphasised the importance of physical activity in maintaining preschool children’s health (1), this problem not only remains, but has become one of the main issues in the area of public health. Both our studies on preschool children (2-8) and studies carried out in other countries (9-13) indicate that preschoolers’ physical activity is decreasing while the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents is increasing (14-17).
Decreased physical activity in preschool children is one of the cause of their unwillingness to take part in physical education classes when they move to school. This problem was raised in the Polish Supreme Audit Office report published recently (18). Therefore, it is necessary to monitor physical activity in preschool children from various regions of Poland and to undertake intervention programmes as quickly as possible.
AIM
The aim of this study was to analyse ordinary and additional physical activity in preschool children from Piła and to investigate their favourite ways of spending leisure time.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Parents of 165 preschoolers, including 79 girls and 86 boys aged 3 to 6 years who attended preschools in Piła, were asked to fill in questionnaires on general information about their children and their families, health status of the children and their families, the children’s ordinary and additional physical activity (the way of going to preschool and coming back home, active ways of spending time at preschool and outside preschool, passive ways of spending leisure time outside preschool), as well as the children’s favourite ways of spending leisure time during sunny and rainy weather. The questions included in the questionnaires were used in our previous studies (4-7).
The study was approved by the Bioethics Committee of the Poznan University of Medical Sciences. Parents were informed during a special meeting about the methods of the research and provided written consent to participate. The study was carried out in September/October 2010.
Statistical analysis was performed by the IBM SPSS Statistics 21 computer programme. The studied population was divided according to gender. Quantitative variables were first analysed using the Shapiro-Wilk statistic for testing normality. The level of significance was set at P ≤ 0.05. For all the analysed quantitative variables, means and standard deviations were calculated (x ± sd). To investigate statistically significant differences between subgroups, the unpaired Student’s t test for normally distributed variables and the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test for skewed variables were used. The level of significance was set at P ≤ 0.05. Qualitative variables were presented in contingency tables. Statistical significance was determined using Pearson’s chi-square test, except for the variables with 2 x 2 tables with an expected frequency of less than five in at least one subgroup for at least one answer. In this case, Yates’ corrected chi-square test or Fisher’s exact test was used. The level of significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.
RESULTS
Characteristics of the studied population
Tables 1 to 3 present, respectively, general information about the studied preschool children from Piła and their families, health status of the studied preschool children and their families, and parents’ opinion on their children’s body weight and health status according to gender. Children’s gender had statistically significant influence on parents’ answers to the questions about familial osteoporosis and about their opinion on their children’s body weight.
Table 1. General information about the studied preschool children and their families.
No.ParameterGirls
(n = 79)
Boys
(n = 86)
All children
(n = 165)
P
1.Child’s age [years]x ± sd5.1 ± 1.05.1 ± 1.05.1 ± 1.0NS
2.Mother’s age [years]x ± sd31.0 ± 4.732.3 ± 5.131.7 ± 5.0NS
3.Father’s age [years]x ± sd33.6 ±4.834.3 ± 5.634.0 ± 5.2NS
4.Mother’s education [%]Vocational9.04.76.7NS
Secondary39.750.045.1
Higher51.345.348.2
5.Father’s education [%]Primary2.70.01.3NS
Vocational14.722.418.8
Secondary52.044.748.1
Higher30.732.931.9
6.Parents’ assessment of the economic status of the family [%]Very good12.89.411.0NS
Good51.352.952.1
Average32.135.333.7
Bad3.82.43.1
7.Number of children in the family [%]One45.639.542.4NS
Two46.847.747.3
Three5.111.68.5
Four2.51.21.8
8.The sequence of the child in the family [%]First68.467.968.1NS
Second27.826.227.0
Third2.54.83.7
Fourth1.31.21.2
x ± sd – mean ± standard deviation
P – significance; NS – not significant (P > 0.05)
Table 2. Health status of the studied preschool children and their families.
No.ParameterGirls
(n = 79)
Boys
(n = 86)
All children
(n = 165)
P
1.Birth weight [kg]*3.3 ± 0.53.4 ± 0.53.3 ± 0.5NS
2.Food allergies [%]11.47.09.1NS
3.Other allergies [%]13.917.415.8NS
4.Taking medicines by the child [%]23.133.728.7NS
5.Following a special diet by the child due to health problems [%]2.50.01.2NS
6.Familial myocardial infarction [%]39.229.133.9NS
7.Familial hyperlipidaemia [%]2.52.32.4NS
8.Familial hypertension [%]60.867.464.2NS
9.Familial cancer [%]38.036.037.0NS
10.Familial obesity [%]25.324.424.8NS
11.Familial diabetes [%]50.647.749.1NS
12.Familial osteoporosis [%]6.316.311.50.045
*x ± sd – mean ± standard deviation
P – significance; NS – not significant (P > 0.05).
Table 3. Parents’ opinion on their children’s body weight and health status [%].
No.ParameterGirls
(n = 79)
Boys
(n = 86)
All children
(n = 165)
P
1.Parents’ opinion on their children’s body weightUnderweight12.73.68.00.051
Adequate body weight83.595.289.6
Obesity3.81.22.5
2.Parents’ opinion on their children’s health statusGood91.188.289.6NS
Not good0.04.72.4
I don’t know8.97.17.9
P – significance; NS – not significant (P > 0.05).
Statistically significantly higher percentage of the parents of boys compared to the parents of girls reported familial osteoporosis, 16.3% vs 6.3%, and assessed their child’s body weight as adequate, 95.2% vs 83.5%, whereas statistically significantly higher percentage of the parents of girls compared to the parents of boys claimed that their child was underweight, 12.7% vs 3.6%, or obese, 3.8% vs 1.2%.
Ordinary and additional physical activity

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otrzymano: 2013-12-20
zaakceptowano do druku: 2014-01-27

Adres do korespondencji:
*Wojciech Chalcarz
Food and Nutrition Department of the Eugeniusz Piasecki University School of Physical Education in Poznań
27/39 Królowej Jadwigi St., 61-871 Poznań
tel.: +48 618-355-287
e-mail: chalcarz@awf.poznan.pl

New Medicine 1/2014
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