A Systematic Review of School-based Physical Activity Programs on Physical Fitness, Cognition, and Affective Outcomes in Early Childhood

Xiuye Xie (Missouri State University)
Xiaoping Fan (State University of New York at Cortland)
Tanjian Liang (Central Washington University)

Article ID: 5363

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jiep.v6i1.5363


The purpose of this study was to review intervention studies on school-based physical activity programs in early childhood to identify the gaps and future trends in this topic. Forty-one quantitative experimental studies were identified from nine electronic databases using predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. All identified studies were coded using a coding template. The interrater reliability between the two coders was 96.5%. The frequencies and percentages for each coded category were reported descriptively. The randomized controlled trial with a control group was the most used research design (70.7%), and 41.5% of the studies were guided by a theoretical/conceptual framework. The intervention length ranged from four days to three years, and 41.5% of the studies reported an intervention fidelity check in various forms. Different dependent variables were measured, and about half of the studies were focused on physical activity and anthropometry outcomes. A trend of the positive impact of school-based physical activity programs on children in early childhood was found. However, the rigor of studies needs significant improvements in multiple areas. Future intervention programs are suggested to include different elements in the design to develop children’s cognition, physical fitness, and affective outcomes. 


Experimental studies; Fidelity check; Preschoolers; Social-ecological model; Intervention effectiveness

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