Assessing the Impact of a Free Play Intervention on Physical Activity Levels in Preschool Recreation Settings


University of Alberta School of Public Health
Candace Nykiforuk

Summary: Physical activity levels early in life are a predictor of future health, and understanding the contexts associated with participation in physical activity are a critical public health issue. Preschools are known to be an ideal setting to promote physical activity and healthy behaviours. In particular, free play can be an important facilitator of positive attitudes and subsequent physical activity. However, there remain many challenges, including gender and sociodemographic differences that need to be addressed if physical activity targets are to be met. The purpose of this study is to expand on the present knowledge pertaining to physical activity levels in preschool children with data gathered in three Alberta preschool recreation settings using a modified version of the Observational System for Recording Physical Activity in Children (OSRAC-P). More specifically, the impact of Love to Play, a program designed by Strathcona County (SC) Recreation, Parks and Culture to provide a rich sensory environment to encourage free play, was evaluated in comparison to two other SC preschool recreation sites that offer programs of the same nature, but without designated spaces to encourage free play.

Student Abstract presented at the 2016 Alberta Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference and Energize Workshop

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