Exercise as it relates to Disease/Development of fundamental motor skills at school – crucial for continuing physical activity

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By Aedney (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What is the background to this research?[edit]

Being physically skilled in childhood may be a predictor for future participation in physical activity.[1] Further longitudinal studies show that object skill proficiency developed in early school years will help develop a positive perception of self-competence in sport and will increase physical activity levels in adolescents.[2] Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are comprised of basic patterns learned during development for example running jumping and throwing. Without these basic skills the opportunity to take part in physical activity during adulthood may be lessened due to lack of competency or confidence.[3] The relationship between FMS competency, physical activity and good health has been established in adolescents and adults.[4] Literature suggests that between ages two and seven is a sensitive movement phase which is vital to developing the basic movement patterns. Martin [5] recognised that these FMS do not develop naturally as a part of maturation and instead through guidance from a coach/ teacher and practice on the patterns of movement. Gallahue [6] suggested specific sports skills are difficult to learn without learning/ practicing FMS during the sensitive movement skill phase. Previous research has suggested many children can learn mature motor skill patterns by the age of ten (Ulrich), a further review showed that 30%-40% of children had not reached the mature pattern of motor skills. Nupponen [7] showed that many 14 year old students had better motor skills than 11 year olds. This suggests the FMS can be developed during high school. No study has investigated the effect of an intervention in a group of adolescents until Kalaja.[8] This study was focused on whether the locomotive, balance and manipulative skills could be developed in a junior high age sample group.

Where is the research from?[edit]

This group studied was from Central Finland. The population of the study consisted of 446 Grade 7 students 230 girls and 216 boys, approximately 13 years in age. The research was published in Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy Vol. 17, No. 4, September 2012, pages 411–428.

What kind of research was this?[edit]

This study was a quasi-experimental intervention study in design. Testing was conducted pre, during and post intervention sessions. This testing method was applicable as it is used to analyse an intervention on a given target population. The intervention and control groups were divided by classes giving each student the opportunity to be in a class that was either selected as control or intervention.

What did the research involve?[edit]

The intervention ran for one complete school year: containing three phases

  • 1) Educational
    • PE teacher seminars and workshops
  • 2) Planning
    • Teachers working with the research team planning the FMS sessions
  • 3) Implementation
    • Conducting the intervention sessions

During the year four measures were taken during school visits, these measurements lasted roughly 90 minutes and participation was voluntary and informed consent was collected. The researchers conducted the testing sessions with assistance from the PE teachers of the school. Prior to measurement there was a standardised warm up phase. The tests conducted were the:

  • Flamingo standing test[9]
    • Measuring static balance
  • Rolling test[10]
    • Measuring dynamic balance
  • Leaping test[7]
    • Measuring an element of locomotor skills
  • Shuttle run test[11]
    • Measuring an element of locomotor skills
  • Rope jumping test[10]
    • Measuring an element of locomotor skills
  • Accuracy throwing test,[10][12]
    • Measuring an element of manipulative skills
  • Figure- 8 dribbling test[13]
    • Measuring an element of manipulative skills
  • Physical activity,[14][15]
    • Self-reporting of physical activity

The intervention was a total of 33 sessions, each taking roughly 25 minutes. These sessions included an aim of developing FMS through standard physical education classes. The research seems to be an efficient and effective way to analyse a large number of participants while also keeping cost to the researchers down. There is risk of unearthed confounding variables in this type of study with a variety of different people administering the intervention, this risk would be best minimised with a thorough education and planning process.

What were the basic results?[edit]

The intervention group improved in the dynamic and static balance tested. The intervention group initially scored higher in FMS sum score, post intervention the score decreased past the control group. FMS could be improved in this age group with a targeted program. There was a self-reported decline in physical activity in the control group that was not as evident in the FMS intervention group. . It was found that balance skills developed more than the manipulative and locomotor skills.

How did the researchers interpret the results?[edit]

How did the researchers interpret the results? The MANOVA (multivariate variate of analysis) test analyses the difference in two or more vectors of means. Using the MANOVA statistics test the researchers took the data collected from the four school visits and compared the experimental v control groups and the four data points. Where significant differences were found in regards to control/experimental group and time were found a post hoc test was used to confirm the difference created by time.

What conclusions should be taken away from this research?[edit]

Specific interventions in physical education classes in school can increase the FMS in adolescents which is an indicator of future physical activity levels. The benefits seem to be increased in the area of static and dynamic balance as opposed to manipulative skills. The intervention also seemed to reduce the normal decline of physical activity in adolescents. This study shows the acute effects on a single group during a single year, in a previous study by Hands it was suggested that FMS skills will predict future physical activity levels. The study highlighted a need for further longitudinal studies to full understand the impact of intervention over time.

What are the implications of this research?[edit]

This research shows that a targeted and well planned physical education class in schools can assist in the development of FMS and increase an adolescents self-reporting of physical activity. This research was conducted over a single year with a sufficient sample size group. The study suggested that in the future there should be a longitudinal study which would lead to an accurate display of physical activity and the relationship with this type of FMS intervention.


  1. McKenzie, T.L., J.F. Sallis, S.L. Broyles, M.M. Zive, P.R. Nader, C.C. Berry, and J.J. Brennan. 2002. Childhood movement skills: Predictors of physical activity in Anglo- and Mexican-American adolescents? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 73: 238 –44
  2. Barnett, L.M., E. van Beurden, P.J. Morgan, and J.R. Beard. 2008a. Perceived sports competence mediates the relationship between childhood motor proficiency and adolescent physical activity Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 425 and fitness. A longitudinal assessment. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 5: 40.
  3. Stodden, D.F., J.D. Goodway, S.J. Langendorfer, M.A. Roberton, M.E. Rudisill, C. Garcia, and L.E. Garcia. 2008. A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity: An emergent relationship. Quest 60: 290– 306
  4. Hands, B., D. Larkin, H. Parker, L. Straker, and M. Perry. 2009. The relationship among physical activity, motor competence and health-related fitness in 14-year-old adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 19: 655 –63.
  5. Martin, E.H., M.E. Rudisill, and P.A. Hastie. 2009. Motivational climate and fundamental motor skill performance in a naturalistic physical education setting. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 14: 227 –40
  6. Gallahue, D., and F. Cleland-Donnelly. 2007. Developmental physical education for all children. 5th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
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  9. EUROFIT. 1988. European test of physical fitness. Rome: Council of Europe, Committee for the Development of Sport.
  10. a b c Kalaja, S., T. Jaakkola, and J. Liukkonen. 2008. Motoriset perustaidot peruskoulun seitsema¨sluokkalaisilla oppilailla [Fundamental movement skills within Finnish Grade 7 students]. Liikunta ja Tiede [Sport and Science] 46: 36–44.
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  12. Numminen, P. 1995. Alle kouluika¨isten lasten havaintomotorisia ja motorisia perustaitoja mittaavan APM-testisto¨n ka¨sikirja [A test package analyzing perceptual and motor skills in preschool]. Research Reports on Sport and Health 98. Jyva¨skyla¨, Finland: LIKES Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences
  13. Nupponen, H., and R. Telama. 1998. Liikunta ja liikunnallisuus osana 11–16 -vuotiaiden eurooppalaisten nuorten ela¨ma¨ntapaa [Physical activity and motor performance as part of the lifestyle of
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