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Carmelo Bazzano, Lee N. Cunningham, Giustino Varrassi and Tony Falconio

The present study examined the relationships among the AAHPERD Physical Best health related physical fitness test (HRPFT) items to resting blood pressure in 80 boys and 84 girls from the Lanciano, Italy, school system. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) was significantly associated with age for both sexes. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) for boys was found to be associated with fatness when age was held constant. To examine the relationship between blood pressure and the HRPFT, data were sorted into two groups of students passing or failing to meet the criterion-referenced standard (CRS) by 1-mile run performance and sum of skinfolds. SBP did not differ significantly between groups for either sex. Boys who failed to meet the CRS for 1-mile run performance showed a higher DBP of 4 mmHg when compared to boys who achieved the CRS. The group passing the aerobic fitness and body composition tests tended to perform better on all test items. With the possible exception of DBP for boys, it is concluded that performance on the Physical Best HRPFT is not associated with resting blood pressure in children and adolescents.

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Roy J. Shephard and Hughes Lavallée

The influence of 1 hour per day of required physical education upon aerobic fitness was tested in 546 prepubescent children recruited from an urban and a rural school in Québec. Two cohorts of experimental students began the enhanced program in Grade 1, with immediately preceding and succeeding classes as controls. V̇O2 peak (treadmill) and PWC170 were measured each year within 2 weeks of each child’s birthday. The data showed significant effects of sex (M>F) and environment (urban>rural). Experimental students showed a significant advantage of V̇O2 peak from 8 to 11 years (M>F; urban>rural). Many students reached less than a centrally limited V̇O2max, although the quality of peak effort was somewhat better in experimental than in control students. PWC170 values confirmed a training response in the boys but not in the girls. The data illustrate some of the problems of repeated testing of young children, but nevertheless support the value of training in the prepubescent years.

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Thomas Rowland, Paul Vanderburgh and Lee Cunningham

Adjustment of VO2max for changes in body size is important in evaluating aerobic fitness in children. It is important, therefore, to understand the normal relationship between changes VO2max and body size during growth. Over the course of 5 years, 20 children (11 boys, 9 girls) underwent annual maximal treadmill testing to determine VO2max. The mean longitudinal allometric scaling exponent for VO2max relative to body mass (M) was 1.10 ± 0.30 in the boys and 0.78 ± 0.28 in the girls (p < .05). Respective cross-sectional values were 0.53 ± 0.08 and 0.65 ± 0.03. VO2max expressed relative to M1.0, M0.75, and M0.67 rose during the 5 years in the boys, but not the girls. Significant gender differences remained when VO2max was related to lean body mass. These findings suggest (a) factors other than body size affect the development of VO2max in children, and (b) gender differences exist in VO2max during childhood which are independent of body composition.

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Michael W. Beets, Kenneth H. Pitetti and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to twofold: to determine reliability of peak performance as measured by peak heart rate (HRpeak) during the Progressive Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) and a treadmill stress test (TM); and to compare the PACER and the TM. The sample consisted of 42 participants 8 to 21 years old with mild mental retardation. Participants completed two PACERs followed by two TMs separated by a minimum of 48 hr. Data collected were HR for the PACER and TM; PACER laps completed; and TM endurance time (min). Intraclass correlations were computed separately for males and females in order to assess the reliability of PACER laps, HRpeak, and TM time. Results indicated high reliability for both males and females on PACER laps and TM HRpeak, and for males on PACER HR and TM time; moderate reliability was observed for females on PACER HRpeak and TM time. No significant differences were detected within or among trials. These findings indicate that youth with mild mental retardation exhibit consistent peak performance on the PACER and TM tests; therefore, PACER can be used for surveillance of aerobic fitness in this population.

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Anneke G. van der Niet, Joanne Smith, Jaap Oosterlaan, Erik J.A. Scherder, Esther Hartman and Chris Visscher

The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of a physical activity program including both aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities on children’s physical fitness and executive functions. Children from 3 primary schools (aged 8–12 years) were recruited. A quasi-experimental design was used. Children in the intervention group (n = 53; 19 boys, 34 girls) participated in a 22-week physical activity program for 30 min during lunch recess, twice a week. Children in the control group (n = 52; 32 boys, 20 girls) followed their normal lunch routine. Aerobic fitness, speed and agility, and muscle strength were assessed using the Eurofit test battery. Executive functions were assessed using tasks measuring inhibition (Stroop test), working memory (Visual Memory Span test, Digit Span test), cognitive flexibility (Trailmaking test), and planning (Tower of London). Children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than children in the control group on the Stroop test and Digit Span test, reflecting enhanced inhibition and verbal working memory skills, respectively. No differences were found on any of the physical fitness variables. A physical activity program including aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities can enhance aspects of executive functioning in primary school children.

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Alexandre Moreira, Arnaldo Mortatti, Marcelo Aoki, Ademir Arruda, Camila Freitas and Christopher Carling

This study investigated the contribution of salivary testosterone (sT) concentration, years from peak height velocity (YPHV) and height by body mass interaction on jumping performance (Countermovement jump; CMJ) and aerobic fitness (Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test, level 1) in young elite soccer players. Forty-five participants (age: 12.5 ± 0.5y; body mass: 48.6 ± 10.2kg, height: 155.7 ± 10.0cm) belonging to a top level Brazilian soccer club were evaluated at four time points across a single semester. None of the assessed players had reached PHV. The data from the four evaluations were averaged and multiple linear regression analysis conducted. For CMJ, the model explained 42.88% of the variance (R 2 = 42.88; p < .000); sT concentration was the primary contributor (R 2 = 32.84) and the YPHV contributed 9.95% of the variance. The model explained 28.50% (p < .000) of the variance in Yo-Yo. The sT was the primary and single significant contributor (R 2 = 21.32). A significant difference was noted between high and low testosterone groups divided a posteriori to CMJ performance (t = 3.35; p = .001). These results suggest an important role for hormonal status in interpreting physical performance in preadolescent soccer players.

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Jennifer Etnier, Jeffrey D. Labban, Aaron Piepmeier, Matthew E. Davis and David A. Henning

Research supports the positive effects of exercise on cognitive performance by children. However, a limited number of studies have explored the effects specifically on memory. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of an acute bout of exercise on learning, short-term memory, and long-term memory in a sample of children. Children were randomly assigned to an exercise condition or to a no-treatment control condition and then performed repeated trials on an auditory verbal learning task. In the exercise condition, participants performed the PACER task, an aerobic fitness assessment, in their physical education class before performing the memory task. In the control condition, participants performed the memory task at the beginning of their physical education class. Results showed that participants in the exercise condition demonstrated significantly better learning of the word lists and significantly better recall of the words after a brief delay. There were not significant differences in recognition of the words after an approximately 24-hr delay. These results provide evidence in a school setting that an acute bout of exercise provides benefits for verbal learning and long-term memory. Future research should be designed to identify the extent to which these findings translate to academic measures.

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James M. Pivarnik, Christopher P. Connolly, Mallory R. Marshall and Rebecca A. Schlaff

Previous research clearly indicates that exercise training decreases during pregnancy, even among the fittest of women. Despite this, women are typically able to resume their prepregnancy exercise routines soon after delivery, and in some instances, their postpartum performances are better than previously experienced. While anecdotal reports are common, there does not appear to be significant research data to explain this phenomenon. In this review, we explore possible physiologic explanations for heightened postpartum exercise performance, such as pregnancy related changes in aerobic fitness, lactate threshold, flexibility, and musculoskeletal fitness. At this time, limited data do not appear to support an ergogenic role for these variables. Another consideration is a positive change in a woman’s psyche or perceptions toward her athletic abilities as a result of her pregnancy and delivery. While this concept is theoretically possible and may have scientific merit, data are sparse. What is clear is that an increasing number of women are maintaining their physical activity and exercise routines during pregnancy, with many able to return to competition soon after delivery. Well-designed studies are needed to further explore the relationships among physiologic and psychological variables and postpartum exercise performance. Ideally, these studies should be prospective (studying women prepregnancy through the postpartum period) and include diverse samples of women with regard to activity type and fitness level.

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Richard W. Best and Mary A. Steinhardt

The purpose of this study was to determine whether children from three schools could accurately count and report their exercise heart rate (HR) during physical education class. Data collection included exercise HR reported by the children and recorded using UNIQ heartwatches. All children were asked to report their exercise HR for 5 and 10 seconds during the aerobic fitness portion of the class. Each child’s reported values were then compared to the heartwatch values. To determine the accuracy of reporting and generalizability of results, a 3 × 3 × 2 (grade by school by method) ANOVA was performed. Results revealed a significant grade-by-school interaction. Children at School A were accurate in counting exercise HR at all grade levels. For schools B and C, children in Grade 5 were accurate in counting, children in Grade 4 were only marginally accurate, and children in Grade 3 were not accurate in counting exercise HR. For each school, the 5-sec count was statistically accurate whereas the 10-sec count was inaccurate. Implications for physical education curricula are discussed.

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Han C.G. Kemper and Robbert Verschuur

The purpose of this longitudinal study was to identify factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) in a teenage population in the Netherlands from ages 13.5 to 21.5 years. In a follow-up study 93 boys and 107 girls were measured annually from 1977 to 1980, and a fifth measurement was made in 1985. The CAD factors assessed were total serum cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), TC/HDL ratio, systolic (Psyst) and diastolic (Pdiast) blood pressure, percentage body fat (percent fat) and aerobic fitness (VO2 max/BW). The results indicate that the percentage of subjects at risk for CAD are relatively low in both sexes for all factors except for percent fat. From 20 to 30% of the subjects remain in the upper half of risk factor distribution throughout the 8 years study for TC, TC/HDL, percent fat, and VO2max/BW, indicating stability during the teenage period. Because percent fat combines a high stability with relatively high mean values during the teenage period in both sexes, this parameter seems a particularly important CAD risk factor in youngsters.