Physical Activity and Motor Competence Present a Positive Reciprocal Longitudinal Relationship Across Childhood and Early Adolescence

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The current study evaluated the reciprocal longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) and motor competence (MC) and the potential mediation of cardiorespiratory endurance across 7 years.


This was a 7-year longitudinal study, the Copenhagen School Child Intervention Study (CoSCIS), with 3 measuring points [mean ages (in years) and respective sample size: 6.75 ± 0.37, n = 696; 9.59 ± 1.07, n = 617; 13.35 ± 0.34, n = 513]. PA was assessed using accelerometers. MC was evaluated by the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) test battery. Cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak) was evaluated using a continuous running protocol until exhaustion. Structural equation modeling was performed to evaluate the longitudinal associations.


Vigorous PA (VPA) and MC presented reciprocal longitudinal association during the 7-year follow-up (VPA → MC; β = 0.18; 95% CI: 0.10, 0.26; MC → VPA; β = 0.14; 95% CI: 0.08, 0.21). In addition, VO2peak mediated the relationship in both directions (VPA → MC; β = 0.09; 95% CI: 0.06, 0.12; MC → VPA; β = 0.06; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.09).


PA and MC presented a positive reciprocal relationship across childhood through early adolescence and VO2peak mediated the association in both directions. Interventions targeting to increase PA in children and adolescents should also address the development of MC skills because of the clear positive feedback loop between PA and MC.

Lima, Bugge, and Moller are with the Research Unit for Exercise Epidemiology, Centre of Research in Childhood Health, Dept of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Lima is also with the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil. Pfeiffer is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Larsen is with the Research & Innovation Center for Human Movement & Learning (FIIBL) University College Lillebaelt, Odense, Denmark. Anderson is with the Dept of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway; and the Faculty of Teacher Education and Sport, Sogn og Fjordane University College, Sogndal, Norway. Stodden is with the Dept of Physical Education and Athletic Training, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Lima ( is corresponding author.