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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2012, Article ID 326520, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/326520
Research Article

Play Equipment, Physical Activity Opportunities, and Children's Activity Levels at Childcare

1Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
2NUTRIM, School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
3Academic Collaborative Centre of Public Health Limburg, South Limburg Regional Public Health Service, P.O. Box 2022, 6160 HA Geleen, The Netherlands
4CAPHRI, School of Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

Received 6 March 2012; Accepted 1 May 2012

Academic Editor: Ross E. Andersen

Copyright © 2012 Jessica S. Gubbels et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study investigated the association between physical activity facilities at childcare (e.g., play equipment) and physical activity of 2- and 3-year olds. Observations of physical activity intensity were performed among 175 children at 9 childcare centers in The Netherlands, using the OSRAC-P. The physical activity facilities were assessed for indoors and outdoors separately, using the EPAO instrument. Regular (single-level) multivariate and multilevel linear regression analyses examined the association of the facilities and child characteristics (age and sex) with children's activity levels. Various physical activity facilities were available in all childcare centers (e.g., balls). Riding toys and a small playing area were associated with lower indoor physical activity levels. Outdoor physical activity levels were positively associated with the availability of portable jumping equipment and the presence of a structured track on the playground. Portable slides, fixed swinging equipment, and sandboxes were negatively associated with outdoor activity levels. In addition, the 3-year old children were more active outdoors than the 2-year olds. In conclusion, not all physical activity facilities at childcare were indeed positively associated with children's activity levels. The current findings provide concrete leads for childcare providers regarding which factors they can improve in the physical environment to facilitate children's physical activity.