Exercise as it relates to Disease/How childhood motor skills lead to an active life
The following Wikibooks page is an analysis of the journal article; “Childhood Motor Skill Proficiency as a Predictor of Adolescent Physical Activity” by L M. Barnett, M.P.H et al. (2008).
This critique was written as an assessment task for the unit; Health, Disease and Exercise at the University of Canberra, September 2019.
What is the background to this research?
Recent evidence has suggested that sedentary behaviour is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue, especially within the adolescent population. In Australia, it was found that only 2% of adolescents (13-17) met both the physical activity and sedentary guidelines, which is concerning, as sedentary behaviour is heavily associated with metabolic risk and chronic disease-related mortality.
This increase in sedentary behaviour could be attributed to the continual advancements in new-age technology, where by the clicking of a button makes everyday things become more accessible. This in turn has seen a rapid decline in the amount of physical activity being done by adolescents.
This now bids the question of whether or not identifying health factors in children may lead to increased physical activity levels as they get older. There is some evidence to suggest that physical activity habits track from childhood to adulthood – meaning more active kids are more likely to be active adults. However little is known about whether or not fundamental motor skill proficiency is a determinant of physical activity levels.
About the article
This article examines the link between childhood motor skill proficiency and subsequent adolescent physical activity behaviour. The study was undertaken to dissect the relationship between childhood locomotor and object control skill proficiency, and later physical activity, in an attempt to provide evidence for the development of interventions.
Where is the research from?
This study was conducted through the University of Sydney, Department of Rural Health (Northern Rivers), New South Wales, Australia. It was funded by both NSW Health and the University of Sydney. All the authors involved in this study are from recognised and reputable health study institutions across both NSW and America.The article was published in 2009 by the Journal of Adolescent Health, a leading journal in the latest findings of adolescent health and medicine.
What kind of research was this?
Data from this research was obtained via a longitudinal cohort study.Longitudinal cohort studies involve a group of people who share a common characteristic, and are a form of observational research whereby data of the same variables is collected over a period of time. This type of study is useful as it is able to follow change over time in particular individuals within the cohort; as well as by collecting data prior to any participant knowledge of further research – which eliminates recall bias.
What did the research involve?
This article displays that data collection for this study occurred in three stages:
In 2000, 1045 primary school children from 18 randomly selected schools in New South Wales, partook in a school-based physical activity intervention. During the intervention, their proficiency in a collection of motor skills was assessed. In 2006/07, a list of original study participants was sent out to high schools all across NSW to identify the now adolescent students for a follow-up assessment. This was referred to as the ‘Physical Activity and Skills Study’.
2.Motor skill measurement
The initial intervention specified a collection of fundamental motor skills (catch, overhand throw, kick, forehand strike, sprint run, leap, dodge, vertical jump). Each skill was made up of a number of features that were considered integral for performing the skill competently. Each feature of each skill was assessed as either present or absent, and the participant received no verbal feedback.
3.Physical activity measurement
The Adolescent Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire (APARQ) was chosen to assess physical activity participation as it measures type of activity, frequency, duration, and whether it was organised or un-organised. Liner relationships were examined between reported time adolescents spent engaging in physical activity and their childhood skill proficiency.
It is well known that the self-report approach can impact on the validity of a study, as interviewees may answer questions about themselves with bias. Participants may over- or under exaggerate their answers; i.e. say they completed more physical activity than they actually did.
In addition, the recall questionnaire asks a multitude of subjective questions, which leads to the possibility of misinterpretation. Questions may be vague and misunderstood. For example, what one person considers to be strenuous exercise, another may find light.
What were the basic results?
Results show that in childhood, males were more proficient at performing motor skills overall. Males were better at object control skills, however females out-performed males in terms of locomotor skills.
Follow up results of physical activity in adolescents indicate that almost all students participated in some sort of moderate-vigorous activity during adolescent years, however males reported more.
After adjusting for school grade and gender, the data revealed that object control proficiency in childhood was associated with time in moderate-to-vigorous activity in adolescence.
In summary, children with good object control skills have at least a 20% greater chance of participating in at least some vigorous activity in adolescence, compared with those with poor control.
What conclusions can we take from this research?
Overall, the study was valid and took into account the limitations. The recruitment of both male and female participants within specific age ranges supplied thorough and reliable data. It is now obvious that skill proficiency developed in primary school years significantly impacts on later physical activity, with object control skills, rather than locomotor, appearing more crucial to total activity time.
In an age where technology is continually advancing, and young people would rather spend their time on screens, it is necessary that children are encouraged to participate in fundamental motor skills as early as possible. Parents are equally responsible for their child’s engagement in these activities, and should spend time with their children helping them develop these skills.
In order to try and combat the issue, the authors of this article provide practical advice for the development of health interventions.
When developing school and community-based interventions, one should consider directing strategies around fundamental motor skills in an attempt to promote long-term physical activity. It may also be suggested that paying close attention to object control skills in primary aged students specifically, is the most promising way to stimulate physical activity in their adolescent years.
Furthermore, parents and families can refer to the Australian Government Department of Healthand follow the appropriate guidelines relating to how much physical activity and sedentary behaviour is recommended to lead a healthy life.
- Kid Sense - Fine Motor Skills
- Literacy Teaching Toolkit: Fine motor
- Kids addicted to screens? Here's how to unplug them
- 50 ways to get your kids moving
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