Dynamic Relationships Between Motor Skill Competence and Health-Related Fitness in Youth

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of South Carolina
  • 2 University of Minnesota
  • 3 Ohio State University
  • 4 Bowling Green State University
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This cross-sectional study examined associations among motor skill competence (MSC) and health-related fitness (HRF) in youth. A convenient sample of 253 boys and 203 girls (aged 4–13 years) participated in the study. Associations among measures of MSC (throwing and kicking speed and standing long jump distance) and a composite measure of HRF (push-ups, curl-ups, grip strength and PACER test) across five age groups (4–5, 6–7, 8–9, 10–11 and 12–13 yrs.) were assessed using hierarchical regression modeling. When including all children, throwing and jumping were significantly associated with the composite HRF factor for both boys and girls (throw, t = 5.33; jump, t = 4.49) beyond the significant age effect (t = 4.98) with kicking approaching significance (t = 1.73, p = .08). Associations between throwing and kicking speed and HRF appeared to increase from early to middle to late childhood age ranges. Associations between jumping and HRF were variable across age groups. These results support the notion that the relationship between MSC and HRF performance are dynamic and may change across childhood. These data suggest that the development of object control skills in childhood may be important for the development and maintenance of HRF across childhood and into adolescence.

Stodden is with the Dept. of Physical Education & Athletic Training, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Gao is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Goodway is with the College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Langendorfer is with the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH. Address author correspondence to David F. Stodden at stodden@mailbox.sc.edu.