Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 86 - 93   DOI:

Research article
Guided Active Play Promotes Physical Activity and Improves Fundamental Motor Skills for School-Aged Children
Asal Moghaddaszadeh, Angelo N. Belcastro 
Author Information
Pediatric Exercise Sciences Laboratory, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, and Muscle Health Research Centre, Faculty of Health, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Angelo N. Belcastro
✉ Pediatric Exercise Sciences Laboratory, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, and Muscle Health Research Centre, Faculty of Health, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Publish Date
Received: 21-03-2019
Accepted: 16-11-2020
Published (online): 01-03-2021
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Reports show that children’s physical activity (PA) levels are related to FMS proficiency; however, whether PA levels directly improve FMS is uncertain. This study investigated the responses of PA levels and FMS proficiency to active play (AP) and guided active play (GAP) interventions. Three community programs (seven-weeks; 4d·wk-1) were randomly assigned to: i) active play (CON); ii) locomotor skills (LOC) guided active play (GAP); and iii) object control skills (OC) GAP groups. Children’s (n = 52; 6.5 (0.9) yr) interventions included continuous and/or intermittent cooperative games focused on either locomotor skills (i.e. blob tag, red-light-green-light) or object control skills i.e., hot potato, racket balloons, 4-way soccer). PA levels (accelerometers) were assessed on 2 of 4 sessions per week throughout the program. The Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2) was used to assess FMS scores. The changes for CON and LOC interventions for locomotor standard scores were -0.83 (2.61) vs. 2.6 (2.64) (α = 0.022), for locomotor percentiles -9.08 (36.7) vs. 20.1 (30.4) (α = 0.033) and for gross motor quotient percentiles -4.3 (30.3) vs. 24.1 (29.6) (α = 0.022). Children’s PA levels averaged 158.6 (6.6) kcal·55min-1 for CON vs. 174.5 (28.3) kcal.55min-1 for LOC (α = 0.089) and 170.0 (20.1) kcal·55min-1 for OC (α = 0.144). Moderate-Vigorous PA was 18.4 (8.0) %, 47.9 (7.8) % (α = 0.000) and 51.9 (6.0) % (α = 0.000) for CON, LOC and OC, while time at sedentary/very light PA was 36.4 (9.8) %, 15.1 (4.9) % (α = 0.000) and 14.9 (15.9) %Sed/VL (α = 0.001) during the 7-week program. The OC intervention showed more upper body movement experiences compared to the LOC program (p = 0.020). A guided active play program using LOC cooperative games showed increases in energy expenditure and %MVPA and improved FMS proficiency, but active play did not. For school-aged children (5-7 yr) guided active play using cooperative games may be an effective strategy to improve FMS and promote health and fitness benefits.

Key words: Play, exercise movement techniques, performance of complex motor acts

           Key Points
  • Using multiple accelerometer placements (waist, wrist and ankle) during motor skill intervention programs are effective in quantified varying amounts of lower body versus upper body movement patterns, which are useful in designing children’s motor skill programs.
  • Children’s active play in community-based settings can elicit self-paced energy expenditures of >170 kcal/hour and intensity levels between 40-60% MVPA.
  • During early childhood the energy expenditure and moderate-vigorous nature of physical activity drives improvements fundamental motor skill proficiency.
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