What is the definition of active play?
“Any physical activity where the child is doing what they want to do for their own reasons”. (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2008)
Active play is appropriate across early childhood. Physical inactivity in preschool children has been related to an increased risk of being overweight or obese at a young age. As such, the promotion of physical activity in this age group is a public health concern, especially as activity is thought to track across the lifespan. There is a need to identify interventions that may promote activity in young children, and to establish the broader impact of such strategies.
Active play interventions may be through enabling indoor environments such as the classroom, childcare setting, Childrens Centres or home, and also through outdoor environments, through natural based play, or playground and recess based play.
Active Play Research
‘Active Play’ was developed following the “Every Child Matters Children and Young Peoples Plan 2006-2009”. The main aim of Active Play was to introduce a range of activities to foundation stage children (aged 3-5 years) and their parents in order to promote active living. Specifically, it linked to the 6 areas of learning outlined in the EYFS Framework. These are a) personal, social, and emotional development; b) communication, language and literacy; c) mathematical development; d) knowledge and understanding of the world; e) physical development; and f) creative development.
The primary aims of the Active Play research programme were to:
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a school based active play intervention at decreasing sedentary time and increasing physical activity in preschool children
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a family focused active play intervention at decreasing sedentary time and increasing physical activity in preschool children.
Secondary aims of the Active Play research programme are to:
Published papers and papers under peer review
O’Dwyer, M.V., Foweather, L. Stratton, G. & Ridgers, N.D. (2011) Physical activity in non-overweight and overweight UK pre-school children: Preliminary findings and methods of the Active Play Project, Science and Sports, 26, 6, 345-349.
O’Dwyer, M.V., Knowles, Z., Fairclough, S.J., Ridgers, N.D., Foweather, L., Stratton., G. (2011) Can a 6 week school based Active Play intervention increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviour? C.A. Williams & N. Armstrong (Eds.), Children and Exercise XXIVI: Proceedings of the 25th Pediatric Work Physiology Meeting (pp. 149-155). London: Routledge.
O’Dwyer, M.V., Knowles, Z.R., Ridgers, N.D. & Stratton, G. (2012) Physical activity, play and the pre-school years. Reviews in Paediatric Exercise Science.
O’Dwyer, M.V. & Stratton, G. (2011) The Active Play Project Research Findings: Summary Report. Liverpool: Sportslinx
Conference Proceedings (Oral)
O’Dwyer, M.V., Knowles, Z., Fairclough, S.J., Ridgers, N.D., Foweather, L., Stratton., G. (2011) Can a 6 week school based Active Play intervention increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviour? European Group of Paediatric Work Physiology XXVII Biennial Conference.
O’Dwyer, M.V., Knowles, Z., Fairclough, S.J., Ridgers, N.D., Foweather, L. and Stratton. G. Within day variability of objectively measured physical activity during weekdays and weekend days in preschool children (2011) 16th Annual Congress of the ECSS, LJMU, UK.
O’Dwyer, M.V., Foweather, L., Stratton, G. and Ridgers, N.D. Differences in habitual physical activity between non-overweight and overweight pre-school children (2010) The 1st European Congress on Physical Activity and Health among Young Children (0-6 years), France.
O’Dwyer, M.V., Stratton, G. and Ridgers, N.D. Assessing physical activity in preschool children using accelerometry (2010) The 3rd International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, Canada.
SureStart Children’s Centres and Liverpool Active City
Liverpool City Council - SportsLinx; SureStart Children’s Centres; Liverpool Early Years Foundation Stage; Liverpool School Sports Partnerships; Liverpool Children’s Services (Early Years Division)
For information on the active play research sub group please contact Dr Zoe Knowles