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Shannon J. FitzGerald, Carolyn E. Barlow, James B. Kampert, James R. Morrow Jr., Allen W. Jackson and Steven N. Blair

Background:

The beneficial effects of cardiorespiratory fitness on mortality are well known; however, the relation of muscular fitness, specifically muscular strength and endurance, to mortality risk has not been thoroughly examined. The purpose of the current study is to determine if a dose-response relation exists between muscular fitness and mortality after controlling for factors such as age and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Methods:

The study included 9105 men and women, 20–82 years of age, in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study who have completed at least one medical examination at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX between 1981 and 1989. The exam included a muscular fitness assessment, based on 1-min sit-up and 1-repetition maximal leg and bench press scores, and a maximal treadmill test. We conducted mortality follow-up through 1996 primarily using the National Death Index, with a total follow-up of 106,046 person-years. All-cause mortality rates were examined across low, moderate, and high muscular fitness strata.

Results:

Mortality was confirmed in 194 of 9105 participants (2.1%). The age- and sex-adjusted mortality rate of those in the lowest muscular fitness category was higher than that of those in the moderate fitness category (26.8 vs. 15.3 per 10,000 person-years, respectively). Those in the high fitness category had a mortality rate of 20.6 per 10,000 person-years. The moderate and high muscular fitness groups had relative risks of 0.64 (95%CI = 0.44–0.93) and 0.80 (95%CI = 0.49–1.31), adjusting for age, health status, body mass index, cigarette smoking, and cardio-respiratory fitness when compared with the low muscular fitness group.

Conclusions:

Mortality rates were lower for individuals with moderate/high muscular fitness compared to individuals with low muscular fitness. These findings warrant further research to confirm the apparent threshold effect between low and moderate/high muscular fitness and all-cause mortality.

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Wayne T. Phillips and William L. Haskell

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1990) has specified as a key objective the reduction of disability in the performance of activities of daily living (ADL) for persons over the age of 65 years. Many ADL involve combinations of muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility, three components that together have been referred to as "muscular fitness." The capacity of the elderly to remain functionally independent, therefore, may depend less on cardiovascular fitness, which has traditionally been the focus of health related fitness research, than on these components of muscular fitness. This review addresses the issue of muscular fitness and disability in the elderly by considering three questions: Is muscular fitness associated with ADL performance? Can muscular fitness be improved with exercise training? Do improvements in muscular fitness improve ADL performance? Answers to these questions will have important implications for future research and program implementation. Although initial findings are promising, more data are needed on the effect of muscular fitness on functional independence and quality of life in the elderly.

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Trynke Hoekstra, Colin A. Boreham, Liam J. Murray and Jos W.R. Twisk

Background:

It is not clear what the relative contribution is of specific components of physical fitness (aerobic and muscular) to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. We investigated associations between aerobic fitness (endurance) and muscular fitness (power) and CVD risk factors.

Methods:

Data were obtained from the Young Hearts project, a representative sample of 12- and 15-year-old boys and girls from Northern Ireland (N = 2016). Aerobic fitness was determined by the 20-m shuttle run test, muscular fitness by the Sargent jump test. CVD risk factors included sum of skinfolds, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum total cholesterol (TC), HDL cholesterol, and TC:HDL ratio. Several linear regression analyses were conducted for 4 age and gender groups separately, with the risk factor as the outcome variable.

Results:

Significant associations between aerobic fitness and a healthy CVD risk profile were found. These observed relationships were independent of power, whereas the (few) relationships between muscular fitness and the risk factors were partly explained by endurance.

Conclusions:

Tailored, preventive strategies during adolescence, incorporating endurance rather than power sports, could be encouraged to help prevent CVD. This is important because existing studies propose that healthiness during adulthood is founded on healthiness in adolescence.

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Xiaoxia Zhang, Xiangli Gu, Tao Zhang, Priscila Caçola and Jing Wang

fitness (especially muscular fitness) and obesity, particularly in Hispanic children ( 3 , 30 ). It has been noted that only 23% of Hispanic children in the United States meet physical activity (PA) guidelines, and the obesity ratio among them is disproportionately higher than in non-Hispanic peers ( 23

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Avery D. Faigenbaum, Laurie Milliken, Lucas Moulton and Wayne L. Westcott

The purpose of this study was to compare early muscular fitness adaptations in children in response to low repetition maximum (LRM) and high repetition maximum (HRM) resistance training. Twenty-three girls and 20 boys between the ages of 8.0 and 12.3 years (mean age 10.6 ± 1.3 years) volunteered to participate in this study. Children performed one set of 6 to 10 RM (n = 12) or one set of 15 to 20 RM (n = 19) on child-size exercise machines twice weekly over 8 weeks. Children in the control group (n = 12) did not resistance train. Maximum strength (1 RM) on the chest press, local muscular endurance (15 RM) on the leg press, long jump, vertical jump, and v-sit flexibility were assessed at baseline and posttraining. The LRM and HRM groups made significantly greater gains in 1-RM strength (21% and 23%, respectively) as compared with the control group (1%). Only the HRM group made significantly greater gains in 15-RM local muscular endurance (42%) and flexibility (15%) than that recorded in the control group (4% and 5%, respectively). If children perform one set per exercise as part of an introductory resistance training program, these findings favor the prescription of a higher RM training range.

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Evelien Van Roie, Christophe Delecluse, Joke Opdenacker, Katrien De Bock, Eva Kennis and Filip Boen

Two groups of sedentary older adults, participating in either a lifestyle physical activity intervention (LIFE, n = 60) or a structured exercise intervention (STRU, n = 60), were compared with a control group (CO, n = 66) in terms of physical fitness and cardiovascular risk factors. Participants in LIFE were stimulated to integrate physical activity into their daily routines and received an individualized home-based program. Participants in STRU completed 5 supervised training sessions every 2 wk in a fitness center. Both interventions lasted 11 months and focused on endurance, strength, flexibility, and postural/balance exercises. The results revealed that the interventions were equally effective in improving functional performance. STRU was more effective than LIFE in improving cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness. Limited effects emerged on cardiovascular risk, with STRU improving in total cholesterol and HDL. Consequently, interventions aiming at reducing cardiovascular risks among sedentary elderly should focus on long-term changes in physical activity behavior.

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Xiangli Gu, Mei Chang and Melinda A. Solmon

Purpose:

This study examined the association between physical activity (PA), physical fitness, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among school-aged children.

Methods:

Participants were 201 children (91 boys, 110 girls; Mage = 9.82) enrolled in one school in the southern US. Students’ PA (self-reported PA, pedometer-based PA) and physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition) were assessed in the fall. The PedsQL4.0 (Varni et al., 2001) was used to assess participants’ HRQOL (physical and mental function) in the spring.

Results:

PA and four components of physical fitness were positively associated with physical and mental function. Path analyses suggested physical fitness mediated the relationship between self-reported PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.53, 1.48]), as well as between pedometer-based PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.54, 1.53]).

Discussion:

Results support the conclusion that enhancing children’s physical fitness can facilitate positive outcomes including improved health related quality of life.

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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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Kathryn L. Weston, Nicoleta Pasecinic and Laura Basterfield

attributable with health improvements are aerobic fitness, body composition, flexibility, and muscular fitness—a collective term representing muscular strength, local muscular endurance, and muscular power ( 39 )—( 7 , 20 , 21 , 47 ). Of these, aerobic fitness—often defined as the ability of the working muscle

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Avery D. Faigenbaum

appropriate resistance training and highlights the importance of building a strong foundation early in life. These data underscore the potential value of systematically progressing the specific type of resistance training in youth programs to optimize improvements in muscular fitness and physical performance