Physical Fitness of Rural Polish School Youth: Trends Between 1986 and 2016

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: The objective of the study was to evaluate secular changes in the physical fitness of rural school youth, 7–15 years, in west-central Poland between 1986 and 2016. Methods: The fitness of cross-sectional samples of school youth resident in the same 10 communities was evaluated in 4 decennial surveys: 1986—1417 boys/1326 girls; 1996—979 boys/947 girls; 2006—871 boys/843 girls; and 2016—1189 boys/1105 girls. Five tests evaluated speed (5-m run), agility (figure 8 run), explosive power (vertical jump), flexibility (stand and reach), and cardiovascular fitness (modified Harvard step test). Age- and sex-specific descriptive statistics were calculated by survey, while differences among surveys were compared in 3 broad age groups (7–9, 10–12, and 13–15 y) using analysis of variance with age and age squared as covariates. Results: Speed and flexibility declined, while the jump and step test index changed variably across surveys. Although agility improved across surveys, the major improvement occurred between 1986 and 1996. Conclusions: Performances of rural school youth on 5 tests of physical fitness changed significantly, but, variably, between 1986 and 2016. The results were generally consistent with other studies of Polish school youth that spanned a similar interval.

Bartkowiak, Konarski, Strzelczyk, and Janowski are with the Theory of Sports Department, Poznań University of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland. Karpowicz is with the Department of Team Sports Games, Poznań University of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland. Malina is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA; and the Department of Anthropology, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA.

Konarski (konarski@awf.poznan.pl) is corresponding author.

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