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Physical activity during the early years: a systematic review of correlates and determinants

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journal contribution
posted on 27.06.2016, 13:33 by Daniel D. Bingham, Silvia CostaSilvia Costa, Trina Hinkley, Katy A. Shire, Stacy ClemesStacy Clemes, Sally E. Barber
Context: Being physically active during the early years (age 0–6 years) is vital for healthy development. Identifying correlates and determinants of physical activity (PA) is crucial to guide effective interventions. This systematic review synthesized studies investigating potential correlates and determinants of PA during the early years, accounting for different types of PA assessment. Evidence acquisition: Nine electronic databases were searched from inception year (1900) until September 2014; data were analyzed/interpreted in April 2015. Inclusion criteria were: written in English, published in peer-reviewed journals, participants not in statutory/school education, and an observational design investigating associations between an exposure/variable and a quantitative measure of PA. Correlates/determinants of total, moderate to vigorous, and light PA were reported using an ecological model. Evidence synthesis: Of 22,045 identified studies, 130 were included. All took place in high-income countries and few (6%) were of high quality. Correlates of total PA were sex (male, ++), parental PA (+), parental support (+), and time outdoors (+). Determinants of total PA were sex (+) and time spent playing with parents (+). The only correlate of moderate to vigorous PA was sex (male, ++). No determinants of moderate to vigorous or light PA were found. PA correlates/determinants were relatively consistent between objective and subjective PA measures. Conclusions: Numerous studies investigated potential correlates and determinants of PA, but overall quality was low. A small number of demographic/biological and social/cultural factors were associated with PA. There is a need for high-quality studies exploring correlates/determinants across all domains of the ecological model.


DDB and SEB’s involvement in this publication was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). TH is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (APP1070571). This study is part of the Healthy Children, Healthy Families Theme of the NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

American Journal of Preventive Medicine






384 - 402


BINGHAM, D.D. ... et al, 2016. Physical activity during the early years: a systematic review of correlates and determinants. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51 (3), pp. 384-402.


© Elsevier Masson


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.04.022.