Muscular and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Homeschool versus Public School Children

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose:

The growth and unregulated structure of homeschooling creates an unknown population in regard to muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness. The purpose of this research was to compare muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness between elementary school aged homeschool and public school children.

Method:

Homeschool children ages 8–11 years old (n = 75) completed the curl-up, 90° push-up, and Progressive Aerobic Capacity Endurance Run (PACER) portions of the FitnessGram to assess abdominal and upper body strength and endurance as well as cardiorespiratory fitness. Comparisons to public school children (n = 75) were made using t tests and chi-square tests.

Results:

Homeschool children showed significantly lower abdominal (t(148) = -11.441, p < .001; χ2 (1) = 35.503, p < .001) and upper body (t(148) = -3.610, p < .001; χ2 (1) = 4.881, p = .027) strength and endurance. There were no significant differences in cardiorespiratory fitness by total PACER laps (t(108) = 0.879, p = .381) or estimated VO2max (t(70) = 1.187, p = .239; χ2 (1) = 1.444, p = .486).

Conclusion:

Homeschool children showed significantly lower levels of both abdominal and upper body muscular fitness compared with their age and gender matched public school peers but no difference in cardiorespiratory fitness.

The authors are with the School of Physical Therapy, Texas Woman’s University, 6700 Fannin, Houston, TX.

Address author correspondence to Laura S. Kabiri at lkabiri@twu.edu.