activities—or even a movement learning center—is not enough for young chil-
dren to gain movement skills.
Why does the development of motor skills matter, when not every child will
go on to become an athlete or a dancer? It matters because children who feel
confident in their movement skills are likely to continue moving throughout
their lives. And that’s significant because of the many health problems that can
be attributed to sedentary living.
Although children love to move—and adults tend to think of them as con-
stantly being in motion—children today are leading much more sedentary lives
than did their predecessors. According to Nielsen research, “Younger children
age 2–5 log close to 25 hours of TV time each week, more than 4.5 hours watch-
ing their favorite DVDs, about 1.5 hours viewing DVR offerings, more than an
hour competing at video games and 45 minutes with the VCR” (McDonough
2009). In fact, watching television is the predominant sedentary behavior in
children, second only to sleeping (Kaur et al. 2003). The advent of computers
and video games has also contributed to the decline in activity. A study from
the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that children ages eight to eighteen
are spending more than seven and a half hours a day with electronic devices
(Lewin 2010)—the same number of hours some people spend at full-time jobs.
According to Bar-Or et al., there is one consistent observation that stands
out among the studies of energy expenditures in young children: children
under the age of seven seem to expend about 20 to 30 percent less energy
in physical activity than the level recommended by the World Health Orga-
nization (1998). The Children’s Activity and Movement in Preschools Study
(CHAMPS) determined that children enrolled in preschools were “engaged in
moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during only 3.4 percent of the
preschool day” (NIEER 2010, 12). Pate et al. observed two thousand children
and found that “children attending preschools were engaged in MVPA during
only 2.6% of observation intervals. During over 85% of intervals, children were
engaged in either very light activity or sedentary behaviors” (2008, 443).
Considered together, these factors provide cause for concern regarding chil-
dren’s fitness levels. Statistics indicate that 40 percent of five- to eight-year-olds
show at least one heart disease risk factor, including hypertension and obesity.
The latter, which is on the rise, particularly among children, has been linked to