Barnett, L., van Beurden, E., Morgan, P., Brooks, L., & Beard, J. (2008). Do skilled children become active adolescents? ACSM 55th Annual Meeting Indianapolis, Presentation Number 933.

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This study determined if childhood fundamental motor skill proficiency predicts adolescent physical activity. In 2000, children’s proficiencies in three object control (kick, catch, throw) and three locomotor (hop, side gallop, vertical jump) skills were assessed as part of a primary school based intervention to increase physical activity levels. Ss were followed-up during 2006/07 as part of the Physical Activity and Skills Study (PASS) and physical activity participation was measured using the Australian Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire. Linear regression was used to examine the relationship between childhood fundamental movement skill proficiency and adolescent physical activity controlling for gender and school grade. A composite skill score was constructed for analysis.

Almost all eligible high schools (41/42) agreed to participate. Ss (N = 481) were located in 28 schools. Student consent was 62% (297/481) with 57% (275/481) surveyed. Slightly more were female (N = 144), Grade 10 (N = 159), and Grade 11 (N = 111). Mean composite skill score for 2000 was 17.3. In 2006/07, mean activity time was 827.2 minutes per week (equivalent to 2 hours per day). Skill proficiency in childhood was associated with time in moderate to vigorous physical activity accounting for 12% of variance. Overall, object control skills were a stronger physical activity predictor.

Implication. Children more proficient at performing fundamental motor skills, particularly object control skills, are more likely to be active adolescents. Fundamental object control motor skills development should be an integral strategy of interventions aimed at promoting long-term physical activity.

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