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The Effect of Primary School-Based Physical Education Programs: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Markel Rico-González

The present article aimed to systematically summarize primary school-based intervention programs and their effects evaluated through randomized-controlled trial design. A systematic review of relevant articles was carried out using 4 electronic databases. From a total of 193 studies initially found, 30 were included in the qualitative synthesis. Main results: (1) Intensive interval training or jump/strength exercises may positively influence physical fitness, promoting challenging task, psychological needs, and guided styles to a greater extent; (2) Games that demand more cognitive function seem more beneficial than those based on repetitive aerobic exertion to improve fundamental motor skills; (3) The jumping/strength exercises may cause benefits in bone area and bone mineral density, while flexibility and balance may reduce the risk of muscle injury; and (4) Programming a greater dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity seems to be related to positive effects in core executive function and academic performance. Additionally, providing information and involving the social environment may enhance the positive effects.

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Effects of Physical Education on Preschool Children’s Physical Activity Levels and Motor, Cognitive, and Social Competences: A Systematic Review

Nagore Martinez-Merino and Markel Rico-González

The aim of this review was to systematically summarize the literature about physical education (PE) programs and their effects on preschool children’s physical activity levels and motor, cognitive, and social competences. A systematic search of relevant articles was carried out using four electronic databases up until February 16, 2022. The main findings were that the inclusion of PE in early childhood is a suitable alternative for improving development in three main areas. For motor competence, specific fundamental motor skill programs are a key opportunity to improve preschool children’s ability. Physical activity levels may be improved considering structured and regular PE programs (two to three classes per week). Regarding cognitive competence, PE classes are effective for improving creativity, attention, and mental abilities, and also, for reducing the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Finally, group-based activities are the most suitable alternative for boosting social competence in preschool children with or without motor disabilities. Improving these competences and physical activity levels in preschool is necessary for the children’s health and holistic development; the educators’ daily decisions have key importance.