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Kirk J. Cureton, Ted A. Baumgartner and Beth G. McManis

The purposes of this study were (a) to describe the relation of 1-mile run/walk time (MRWT) to skinfold thickness measures in a national probability sample of students 8 to 18 years of age (NCYFS I and II, n = 11,123) and (b) to evaluate the impact of adjusting MRWT scores for the effect of skinfold thickness on the classification of scores using percentile ranks and criterion referenced standards (CRS). MRWT was significantly related to the sum of subscapular and triceps skinfolds in all age-gender groups. In 12-year-olds, MRWT scores adjusted for sum of skinfolds by regression analysis resulted in individual percentile ranks that differed by more than 10 from percentile ranks of unadjusted scores in 29% of girls and 39% of boys, and altered classifications on the Fitnessgram and AAHPERD mile run/walk time CRS in 11-14% of boys and girls. It is concluded that the relation between MRWT and skinfold thickness is strong enough, and the impact of adjusting MRWT scores for skinfold thickness sufficient, to justify using adjusted scores for classification of cardiorespiratory capacity as part of the assessment of health related physical fitness in youth. Additional research is needed to cross-validate the equations developed in this study.

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Soyang Kwon, Trudy L. Burns and Kathleen Janz

Background:

This study aimed to examine combined and independent effects of cardiorespiratory fitness and fatness on cardiovascular risk factors among U.S. adolescents.

Methods:

Data from adolescents age 12 to 19 years participating in the NHANES 1999 to 2002 were used. Fitness level was determined by submaximal treadmill test and was dichotomized as ‘not fit’ or ‘fit’ according to the FITNESSGRAM. Fatness level was categorized as ‘not fat’ or ‘fat’ based on the CDC BMI growth charts. Gender-specific multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted to compare age-, race/ethnicity-, fatness-, and waist circumference-adjusted means of blood pressure, lipids, lipoproteins, C-peptide, insulin, and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.

Results:

A total of 3202 adolescents (1629 boys) were included for data analysis. Among boys, total cholesterol, tri-glycerides, insulin, and CRP mean levels were significantly higher (P < .05) in the ‘not fit’ group than in the ‘fit’ group, after adjustment for fatness level and waist circumference. Among girls, the fatness level- and waist circumference-adjusted means of total cholesterol (P < .01) and LDL-C (P < .09) were higher in the ‘not fit’ than ‘fit’ groups.

Conclusion:

Cardiorespiratory fitness, independent of fatness, may have beneficial effects on lipid profiles among girls, and on lipid profiles, insulin metabolism, and inflammation levels among boys.

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Ryan D. Burns, Timothy A. Brusseau and James C. Hannon

Background:

Optimal levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) have been shown to improve health and academic outcomes in youth. Limited research has examined MVPA trajectories throughout a daily middle school physical education (PE) curriculum. The purpose of this study was to examine MVPA trajectories over a daily PE curriculum and the modifying effects of sex, body composition, and cardiorespiratory endurance.

Methods:

One hundred 7th- and 8th-grade students participated in daily PE lessons. There were 66 lessons throughout the semester. MVPA was monitored during each lesson using NL-1000 piezoelectric pedometers. Students were classified into FITNESSGRAM Healthy Fitness Zones using estimated VO2 Max and Body Mass Index (BMI). A population averaged generalized estimating equation was employed to examine MVPA trajectories.

Results:

On average, students’ MVPA decreased over time (β = –0.35, P < .001). Poor student VO2max classification significantly modified the trajectories (β = –0.14, P < .001), however poor BMI classification did not have a modifying effect (β = 0.03, P = .158).

Conclusions:

MVPA decreased in daily PE over time and cardiorespiratory endurance significantly modified the trajectories. The results support that extra efforts have to be made by teachers and students to sustain MVPA behaviors over a semester.

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Dartagnan P. Guedes, Jaime Miranda Neto, Vitor Pires Lopes and António José Silva

Background:

This study investigated the association between sociodemographic and behavioral factors and health standards based on physical fitness component scores in a sample of Brazilian schoolchildren.

Methods:

A sample of 1457 girls and 1392 boys aged 6 to 18 years performed a test battery of 5 items: 1) sit-and-reach, 2) curl-up, 3) trunk-lift, 4) push-up, and 5) progressive endurance run (PACER). The cut-off scores for gender and age suggested by the FitnessGram were adopted.

Results:

The findings showed that the sociodemographic and behavioral factors significantly associated with the ability of schoolchildren of meeting the health standards varied according to the fitness test. In the 5 tests used girls presented lower chance of meeting the health standards. Age and socioeconomic class were negatively associated with the performance in all physical tests. Schoolchildren aged ≤ 9 years or from families of lowest socioeconomic class presented approximately twice the chance of meeting the health standards than those aged ≥ 15 years and from more privileged families, specifically in the push-up (OR = 2.40; 95% CI 2.01–2.82) and PACER (OR = 2.18; 95% CI 1.84–2.54) tests.

Conclusions:

Interventions to promote health-related physical fitness should not only consider gender and age of schoolchildren, but also selected sociodemographic and behavioral factors, especially socioeconomic class and leisure activities.

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Jennifer L. Gay, Sara W. Robb, Kelsey M. Benson and Alice White

Background:

The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), a publicly available dataset, is used in emergency preparedness to identify communities in greatest need of resources. The SVI includes multiple socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic indicators that also are associated with physical fitness and physical activity. This study examined the utility of using the SVI to explain variation in youth fitness, including aerobic capacity and body mass index.

Methods:

FITNESSGRAM data from 2,126 Georgia schools were matched at the census tract level with SVI themes of socioeconomic, household composition, minority status and language, and housing and transportation. Multivariate multiple regression models were used to test whether SVI factors explained fitness outcomes, controlling for grade level (ie, elementary, middle, high school) and stratified by gender.

Results:

SVI themes explained the most variation in aerobic fitness and body mass index for both boys and girls (R2 values 11.5% to 26.6%). Socioeconomic, Minority Status and Language, and Housing and Transportation themes were salient predictors of fitness outcomes.

Conclusions:

Youth fitness in Georgia was related to socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic themes. The SVI may be a useful needs assessment tool for health officials and researchers examining multilevel influences on health behaviors or identifying communities for prevention efforts.

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Jorge Mota, Rute M. Santos, Pedro Silva, Luisa Aires, Clarice Martins and Susana Vale

Background:

The main goal of this study was to analyze the associations between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and body mass index (BMI) with self-rated health (SRH) of adolescent girls.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional study of 533 adolescents girls, aged from 10 to 18 years old. CRF was predicted by maximal multistage 20-m shuttle-run test according to procedures described from FITNESSGRAM. Girls’ obesity status was classified according to International Obesity Task Force and Self-rated health (SRH) was assessed by questionnaire.

Results:

The findings showed that among adolescent girls 23.2% had negative SRH. Girls who were classified as unfit were more likely to report negative SRH in both univariate logistic (OR: 3.05; CI: 1.91−4.87; P < .05) and multivariate (OR: 2.93; CI: 1.82−4.72; P < .05) regression analyses compared with their fit peers. Obese girls were more likely to report negative SRH (OR: 2.30; CI: 1.14−4.62; P < .05) compared with their normal-weight counterparts. However such association was lost in multivariate analyses suggesting an effect of CRF.

Conclusions:

Negative perception of health was associated with lower CRF and weight status although such association it is mediated by CRF condition.

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Tao Zhang, Katherine Thomas and Karen Weiller

The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations among predisposing (perceived competence and enjoyment), reinforcing (social environments), enabling factors (motor skills, fitness, physical environments) and physical activity among 288 children, and to identify the age and gender differences among participants. The children completed previously validated questionnaires assessing their perceived competence, enjoyment, school social and physical environments, and physical activity. Physical fitness was measured by FITNESSGRAM fitness testing. Students’ motor skills were assessed by PE Metrics. The results indicated that perceived competence and enjoyment predicted physical activity for boys, while perceived competence was the only predictor for girls. Age effects for fitness and skill were significant, as were gender differences for skill, social environment and perceived competence. This study suggests the importance of supportive teachers who provide enjoyable physical education that builds perceived competence for children to improve fitness, motor skill development and physical activity participation. The results support associations between predisposing factors and self-reported physical activity as theorized within the social ecological model.

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Laura S. Kabiri, Katy Mitchell, Wayne Brewer and Alexis Ortiz

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.

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James J. McClain, Gregory J. Welk, Michelle Ihmels and Jodee Schaben

Background:

The PACER test is a valid and reliable assessment of aerobic capacity in children. However, many schools lack adequate space to administer the test. This study compared the utility of the standard 20m PACER test with an alternative 15m PACER protocol in 5th and 8th grade students.

Methods:

A total of 171 students completed both PACER protocols in a counterbalanced design. Agreement between the two protocols was assessed with correlations, repeated-measures ANOVA, and classification agreement into the FITNESSGRAM ® healthy fitness zones.

Results:

The difference in estimated VO2max between the two tests was slightly larger for boys (5th grade, 1.32 ml/kg/min; 8th grade, 1.72 ml/kg/min) than girls (5th grade, 0.14 ml/kg/min; 8th grade, 1.11 ml/kg/min), but these differences are probably not of practical significance. Classification agreement was 88% for boys and 91% for girls.

Conclusions:

Collectively, the results suggest that the 15m and 20m PACER provide similar information about aerobic fitness in youth. The 20m test is recommended when possible, but the 15m provides a useful alternative for schools with smaller gymnasiums.

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Inas Rashad Kelly, Mary Ann Phillips, Michelle Revels and Dawud Ujamaa

Background:

This study analyzed the effect of school practices regarding the provision of physical education (PE) on the physical fitness of children and youth.

Methods:

Using an untapped sample of approximately 5000 5th and 7th graders from 93 schools in Georgia in 2006, individual-level and merged school-level data on physical education were analyzed. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to estimate the potential influence of the school environment on measured health outcomes. Controls were included for grade, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, and county of residence.

Results:

Variables measuring 8 school-level practices pertaining to physical education were found to have significant effects on cardiovascular fitness as measured by the FitnessGram, with signs in the expected direction. These variables, combined with demographic variables, explained 29.73% of the variation in the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run but only 4.53% of the variation in the body mass index.

Conclusions:

School-level variables pertaining to PE practices were collectively strong predictors of physical fitness, particularly cardiovascular fitness. Schools that adopt these policies will likely encourage favorable physical activity habits that may last into adulthood. Future research should examine the causal relationships among physical education practices, physical activity, and health outcomes.