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Table 1 Summary of results

From: Physical activity and prospective associations with indicators of health and development in children aged <5 years: a systematic review

Health or developmental outcome Intervention studiesa Longitudinal studiesa Total effect and evidence
Body composition (15 studies, 3448 participants)a
 BMI 0 0 0 + 0 0 0 0 0 - - - Based on inconsistent findings among the studies with high methodological quality, there is insufficient evidence for the effects of physical activity on body composition in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Fat percentage + 0 0 + 0
 Fat mass + + + 0 0 0 0
 Fat free mass 0 + + 0
 Waist/hip ratio   +
 Weight   0 -
Motor development (11 studies, 1281 participants)
 Total motor score + + + + 0 0 Based on consistent findings among studies with weak-to-moderate methodological quality, there is moderate evidence for the positive effects of physical activity on motor development in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Total gross motor score 0  
 Total fine motor score   0
 Locomotor score + +  
 Object control score + + 0  
 Balance score + +  
 Manual dexterity score 0  
 Gross motor milestones + +
Cognitive development (10 studies, 4939 participants)
 School outcomes (e.g. math, language) + + + + + + Based on consistent findings among studies with weak-to-moderate methodological quality, there is moderate evidence for the positive effects of physical activity on cognitive development in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Acute effects (e.g. concentration) + + 0  
Cardiovascular health (7 studies, 1381 participants)
 Blood pressure + + 0 Based on inconsistent findings among the studies with high methodological quality, there is insufficient evidence for the effects of physical activity on cardiovascular health in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Insulin   0 0
 Triglycerides   + 0
 Cholesterol   0 0
 Adiponectin   +
 Glucose, leptin, hsCRP   0
 Lipoprotein   0
 Total metabolic score   +
 Serum lipids and lipoproteins   0
 Cardiovascular fitness   + +
 Arterial stiffness   +
Social-emotional development (2 studies, 7038 participants)
 Behavior   Based on inconsistent findings and a limited amount of available studies, there is insufficient evidence for the effects of physical activity on social-emotional development in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Quality of Life   0
Bone health (2 studies, 2907 participants)
 Bone density   0 Based on inconsistent findings and a limited amount of available studies, there is insufficient evidence for the effects of physical activity on bone health in young children (< 5 yrs).
 Fractures  
  1. aOnly studies that conducted statistical analyses are included in the summary table; + = study adding evidence for a positive association; − = study adding evidence for a negative association; 0 = study indicating no evidence for an association; a = a positive association means positive for children’s health; Bold values = studies of high methodological quality; BMI Body mass index, hsCRP High-sensitivity C-reactive protein