LATEST RESEARCH: Physical Activity and Motor Competence


The current study evaluated the reciprocal longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) and motor competence (MC) and the potential mediation of cardiorespiratory endurance across seven years.

This was a seven-year longitudinal study with three 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) – the Copenhagen School Child Intervention Study (CoSCIS). PA was assessed using accelerometers. MC 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 seven-year follow-up (VPA --> MC; ?=0.18; 95%CI: 0.10, 0.26; MC --> VPA; ?=0.14; 95%CI: 0.08, 0.21). In addition, VO2peak mediated the relationship in both directions (VPA --> MC; ?=0.09; 95%CI: 0.06, 0.12; MC --> VPA; ?=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.

Keywords: physical fitness, adolescent, health behavior

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Key takeaways
  • Higher levels of physical activity is associated with higher levels of motor competency across childhood through early teenage years.
  • Encourage children to be active so as to develop their motor skills and reap long-lasting physical benefits.
  • Participation in multi-sport is a great way to hone a variety of motor skills competencies.