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Peter Hastie, Oleg Sinelnikov and Danielle Wadsworth

Background:

This study compares the aerobic fitness status of a sample of rural American and Russian children, and examines these findings in light of their out of school physical activity participation.

Methods:

Ten and eleven year old (N = 415) children from both countries completed a 15 m Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) fitness test, and following the test, the children scoring beyond the upper limit of the healthy fitness zone were interviewed with regard to their out-of-school participation in physical activity.

Results:

The Russian students achieved significantly higher scores than American students (P < .001), and males scored higher than females for both countries (P < .001). After examining the profiles of the students 3 apparent themes begin to emerge: Russian students walk to and from school; the students in both settings who achieve a superior fitness level participate in after school physical activity; after school activities for the American students appear to be more recreational orientated than the Russian students, who participate in structured training in sports clubs.

Conclusions:

For the students in this study, it appears that participating in after school activity may have contributed to achieving high levels of aerobic fitness.

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Stephen H. Boutcher

The effects of aerobic fitness on psychological and behavioral variables are currently receiving increased attention. However, the results of past research in these areas are equivocal, mainly due to differences in the methods used to quantify aerobic fitness and the failure to address issues concerning adaptation responses to aerobic training. It is suggested that direct assessment of V02max and estimation of lactate threshold are currently the most suitable measures of aerobic power and adaptation responses to aerobic exercise. To better understand how aerobic fitness affects psychological variables, it is also necessary to consider genetic influences and level and mode of adaptation to aerobic training. It is suggested that there should be more focus on examining underlying mechanisms common to both aerobic fitness and the phenomenon of interest. This focus should integrate multiple adaptation patterns and physiological and psychological responses rather than measure solitary parameters.

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Anita Hurtig Wennlöf, Agneta Yngve and Michael Sjöström

Background:

Steadily declining physical activity, especially among children, and the possible adverse health outcomes such behavior could precede, is a general concern. We evaluated whether a presumed decrease in physical activity has been accompanied with a decrease in aerobic fitness of Swedish children.

Methods:

A maximum cycle ergometer test was performed in 935 children age 9 and 15 y, and the results were compared with previously reported data.

Results:

Estimated peak oxygen uptake (mL × min-1 × kg-1) in 9-y-old subjects was 37.3 in girls and 42.8 in boys; and in 15-y-olds, 40.4 in girls and 51.5 in boys. In the 9-y-olds, aerobic fitness remained lower in the current study compared to earlier data, but in the 15-y-olds the result did not differ from the 1952 data after adjustment for methodological differences.

Conclusion:

Our results suggest a change towards decreased aerobic fitness in 9-y-old, but not in 15-y-old, Swedish children during a 50-y time span.

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Lauren B. Raine, Mark R. Scudder, Brian J. Saliba, Arthur F. Kramer and Charles Hillman

Background:

There is a growing trend of inactivity among children, which may not only result in poorer physical health but also poorer cognitive health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between aerobic fitness and proactive and reactive cognitive control using a continuous performance task (CPT).

Methods:

Forty-eight 9- to 10-year-old children (n = 24 higher fit [HF] and n = 24 lower fit [LF]) performed an AX-CPT requiring them to respond to target cue-probe pairs (AX) or nontarget pairs (AY, BX, BY) under 2 different trial duration conditions, which modulated working memory demands.

Results:

Across trials and conditions, HF children had greater accuracy than LF children. For target trials, the long duration resulted in lower accuracy than the short duration. For nontarget trials, an interaction of duration and trial was observed, indicating that the long duration resulted in decreased BX and BY accuracy relative to the short duration. AY trials had greater accuracy during the long duration compared with the short duration.

Conclusions:

These data suggest that fitness may modulate cognitive control strategies during tasks requiring context updating and maintenance, key components of working memory and further support aerobic fitness as a marker of cognitive and brain health in children.

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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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Jennifer L. Etnier, Benjamin A. Sibley, Jeremy Pomeroy and James C. Kao

Research suggests that there are differences in response time (RespT) as a function of age but that aerobic fitness might have a facilitatory effect on RespT. This study was designed to examine this relationship while addressing methodological issues from past research. Men from 3 age groups completed speeded tasks, a physical activity questionnaire, and an aerobic-fitness test. Results indicated that age has a negative impact on RespT (specifically premotor time and movement time). The interaction of aerobic fitness by age was also a significant predictor of RespT (specifically movement time) such that aerobic fitness was positively related to speed of performance for older participants. It is concluded that aerobic fitness might serve a preservative function for speeded tasks in older adults.

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Alessandra de Carvalho Bastone, Eduardo Ferriolli, Claudine Patricia Teixeira, João Marcos Domingues Dias and Rosângela Corrêa Dias

Background:

Self-reported measures of decreased aerobic fitness and low physical activity are criteria of frailty. However, research assessing aerobic fitness and physical activity levels associated with frailty is limited. Therefore, the aims of this study were to objectively assess the aerobic fitness and the physical activity level of frail and nonfrail elderly, and to examine the association between frailty, aerobic fitness and habitual physical activity.

Methods:

This study included 26 elderly (66 to 86 years), randomly selected. The groups (frail/nonfrail) were age and sex paired. Peak oxygen consumption, maximal walking distance and speed were assessed during the incremental shuttle walk test (ISWT). Average daily time spent in sedentary, light, moderate and hard activity, counts, number of steps and energy expenditure were measured by accelerometry.

Results:

All variables measured by the ISWT and accelerometer differed significantly between the groups (P < .02). All aerobic fitness and physical activity variables were significantly associated with frailty, independent of the number of chronic health conditions (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Frailty is associated with low peak oxygen consumption and low physical activity level. These findings could guide future clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercises in the prevention and treatment of frailty.

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Arthur F. Kramer, Sowon Hahn and Edward McAuley

The article provides a brief review of the literature on the relationship between aerobic Fitness and neurocognitive function, particularly as it relates to older adults. Cross-sectional studies provide strong support for the beneficial influence of fitness on neurocognitive function. The longitudinal or interventional literature, however, provides more equivocal support for this relationship. In discussing the literature, the authors introduce a new hypothesis, the executive control/fitness hypothesis, which suggests that selective neurocognitive benefits will be observed with improvements in aerobic fitness; that is, executive control processes that include planning, scheduling, task coordination, inhibition, and working memory will benefit from enhanced fitness. Preliminary evidence for this hypothesis is discussed.

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Kaisu Marjut Kaikkonen, Raija irmeli Korpelainen, Mikko P. Tulppo, Hannu Sakari Kaikkonen, Marja Liisa Vanhala, Mika Antero Kallio, Sirkka M. Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi and Juha Tapani Korpelainen

Background:

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction and obesity are intrinsically related to each other. In normal-weight subjects physical activity (PA) and fitness are related to cardiovascular autonomic regulation, providing evidence that aerobic training may improve ANS functioning measured by heart rate variability (HRV). The goal of this study was to investigate the association between lifetime PA, aerobic fitness and HRV in obese adults.

Methods:

Participants included 107 (87 females) volunteers (mean age 44.5 years, median BMI 35.7) who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires and measurements of maximal aerobic performance, anthropometry and 24 h HRV.

Results:

In the multivariate linear regression analyses, lifetime physical activity explained 40% of the variance in normal R-R intervals (SDNN). Each 1-category increase in the activity index increased SDNN by 15.4 (P = .009) and 24% of the variance in natural logarithmic value of ultra-low frequency power (P = .050). High measured VO2max explained 45% of the variance in natural logarithmic value of high-frequency power (P = .009) and 25% of the variance in low frequency/high frequency ratio (P < .001).

Conclusions:

Lifetime physical activity and aerobic fitness may reduce obesity-related health risks by improving the cardiac autonomic function measured by HRV in obese workingage subjects. This research supports the role of lifetime physical activity in weight management strategies and interventions to reduce obesity-related health risks.

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Christine Voss and Gavin R. H. Sandercock

Background:

Parental behavior is an important correlate of child health. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between perceived parental physical activity (PA) and schoolchildren’s aerobic fitness.

Methods:

English schoolchildren’s (n = 4029, 54% boys, 10.0−15.9 yrs) fitness was assessed by 20 m shuttle run test and categorized using criterion-referenced standards. Parental PA was reported by the child.

Results:

Boys and girls were more likely to be fit (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1−1.8; OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1−2.0; respectively) if at least 1 parent was perceived as active compared with when neither parents were. Girls were even more likely to be fit (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2−2.8) if both parents were active. Associations between parental PA and child fitness were generally stronger when parent and child were of the same gender, although girls with active fathers were more likely (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.7−3.7) to be fit compared with inactive fathers.

Conclusion:

Schoolchildren perceiving at least 1 parent as active are more likely to meet health-related fitness standards. Underlying mechanisms remain elusive, but same-gender associations suggest that social rather than genetic factors are of greater importance. Targeting parental PA or at least perceptions of parental PA should be given consideration in interventions aiming to improve child health.