Research Study Abstract

Longitudinal Physical Activity, Body Composition, and Physical Fitness in Preschoolers.

  • Published on Oct 2017

Purpose: This study aimed to investigate longitudinal associations of objectively measured physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) with body composition and physical fitness at a 12-month follow-up in healthy Swedish 4-yr-old children.

Methods: The data from the population-based MINISTOP trial were collected between 2014 and 2016, and this study included the 138 children who were in the control group. PA and SB were assessed using the wrist-worn ActiGraph (wGT3x-BT) accelerometer during seven 24-h periods and, subsequently, defined as SB, light-intensity PA, moderate-intensity PA, vigorous-intensity PA (VPA), and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Body composition was measured using air-displacement plethysmography and physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, lower and upper muscular strength as well as motor fitness) by the PREFIT fitness battery. Linear regression and isotemporal substitution models were applied.

Results: Greater VPA and MVPA at the age of 4.5 yr were associated with higher fat-free mass index (FFMI) at 5.5 yr (P < 0.001 and P = 0.044, respectively). Furthermore, greater VPA and MVPA at the age of 4.5 yr were associated with higher scores for cardiorespiratory fitness, lower body muscular strength, and motor fitness at 12-month follow-up (P = 0.001 to P = 0.031). Substituting 5 min·d of SB, light-intensity PA, or moderate-intensity PA for VPA at the age of 4.5 yr were associated with higher FFMI, and with greater upper and lower muscular strength at 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001 to P = 0.046).

Conclusions: Higher VPA and MVPA at the age of 4.5 yr were significantly associated with higher FFMI and better physical fitness at 12-month follow-up. Our results indicate that promoting high-intensity PA at young ages may have long-term beneficial effects on childhood body composition and physical fitness, in particular muscular strength.


  • Leppänen MH 1
  • Henriksson P
  • Delisle Nyström C
  • Henriksson H
  • Ortega FB
  • Pomeroy J
  • Ruiz JR
  • Cadenas-Sanchez C
  • Löf M


  • 1

    1Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, FINLAND; 2Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, Linkoping University, Linkoping, SWEDEN; 3Promoting Fitness and Health through Physical Activity Research Group (PROFITH), Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, SPAIN; 4Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, NOVUM, Huddinge, SWEDEN; and 5Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI.


Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise


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