A Network Perspective on the Relationship Between Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity and Fundamental Motor Skills in Early Childhood

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: The relationship between moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and fundamental motor skill (FMS) is inconsistent in early childhood, due to its complex and nonlinear characteristics. This study aimed to analyze the nonlinear relationships between MVPA, FMS, body mass index (BMI), sex, and age in preschoolers. Methods: This cross-sectional study with preschoolers (n = 204; 4.0 [0.8] y old; 99 boys), provided objective physical activity data, FMS assessments, and BMI. The associations between MVPA, FMS, BMI, sex, and age were explored using the network analysis (RStudio and qgraph). Results: Boys were more motor competent than girls in all FMS skills, while girls were more active than boys during the weekend. Older children were less active than their younger peers during these days. MVPA is weak and differently related to each FMS, and the leap skill emerged with the highest betweenness and strength values in the network. Conclusions: For the assessed preschoolers, when considering BMI, age, and sex, the relationships between MVPA and FMS are inconsistent, and leap emerged as the main variable. During early childhood, these variables are connected as part of a complex system in which each skill has a dynamic role within the emerging pattern.

Bezerra and Souza Filho are with the Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Paraiba, Cidade Universitária, João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. Bandeira is with the Department of Physical Education, Regional University of Cariri, Crato, Ceará, Brazil. Clark is with the Institute of Health and Well-being, and with the Centre for Intelligent Healthcare, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom. Mota is with the Research Centre of Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal, and the Laboratory for Integrative and Translational Research in Population Health (ITR), Porto, Portugal. Duncan is with the Centre for Applied Biological and Exercise Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom. Lucena Martins is with the Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Paraiba, Cidade Universitária, João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil; the Research Center in Physical Activity, health and Leisure (CIAFEL), Faculty of Sports, University of Porto (FADEUP), Portugal; and the Laboratory for Integrative and Translational Research in Population Health (ITR), Porto, Portugal.

Bezerra (thaynaalves.ef@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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