Exercise as it relates to Disease/You Got To Move It- The relationship between motor proficiency and pedometer-determined physical activity in children

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This is a critique of the journal article "The Relationship Between Motor Proficiency and Pedometer-Determined Physical Activity in Young Children" by researchers Antonis Kambas et al. (2012)

Background to Research[edit | edit source]

This is the first study to conduct a research on motor proficiency in young children and using a pedometer to determine physical activity.
Young children start developing their motor skills known as fundamental motor skills (FMS) which are composed of locomotor skills and object control skills which will form the foundation for future movement and physical activity, without FMS it will limit their involvement in future physical activities due to not having the prerequisite skills to be active.[1] Therefore, early exposure to an active lifestyle will support them to be active from a young age and help form the motor proficiency needed by exposing them to develop and learn new skills. It is also crucial for children to develop habitual physical activity and to be constantly developing their motor skills for more complex movements and activities in the future.[2]

Research Origin[edit | edit source]

This study was conducted by researchers from the following universities:

  • Democritus University of Thrace
  • National Kapodestrian University of Athens
  • University of Osnabrueck

The main researcher - Antonis Kambas has done most of his research in preschool and primary children.[3]
This research was conducted in kindergartens in Northern Greece only and the results are not accountable for the whole of Greece, however the practical implications are very relevant to young children in general and will therefore be applicable to children in Australia too.

What Kind of Research was Conducted[edit | edit source]

A self-report method is used in this research and is an easy measure to collect data from a large group at a low cost.
There are certain limitations, such as a social bias that leads to over-reporting of physical activity but in this research, it would be not remembering to put on the pedometer from the moment the participants are awake.[4]

What did the Research Involve[edit | edit source]

This study included 232 children (118 boys and 114 girls) aged between 5-6 years old from 180 kindergartens in North-Eastern Greece.
The participants had to ensure that they wore the pedometer from the time they woke up until they went to bed for 7 consecutive days. On the eighth day, the pedometers were collected by the researchers which will result in 7 full days of data collection.

The Omron HJ-720IT-E2 pedometer was used in this research and is said to be more accurate than the gold standard Yamax Digiwalker pedometer.
The Omron pedometer has been shown to only detect a step when movement acceleration peak is ≥ 0.10g while the Digiwalker pedometer has a movement acceleration step-detection threshold of 1.21g. The Omron pedometer is the most accurate during treadmill walking but there is a step-detection error during slow walking because it is most likely that acceleration at the hip will not exceed a threshold of 0.10 g while walking.[5]
Pedometers are unable to provide information about the intensity of physical activity or certain physical activities such as cycling.[6]

This research has a small age range of 60-71 months but is made up with a rather large sample size of 232 children and at an almost even number of boy and girl participants.
None of the children in this research were obese or overweight and those above 95% in BMI were excluded. This research has a lack of focus on the consequences of physical inactivity but there should be an analyst on inactive children as overweight children have a greater difficulty performing motor skills due to their overall increased mass.[7]Inactive children also increases the risk of obesity as they grow older.[8]

The use of BOTMP-SF for the motor proficiency test is shown to account for no significant sex differences and is an appropriate measure for children aged 3-5.[9] The BOTMP-SF is said to be a measure of general motor proficiency and despite its wide use in research it does not insure for the reliability and validity of a test.[10]

Results[edit | edit source]

Motor proficiency is positively associated with physical activity variables such as steps (S), aerobic steps (AS) and aerobic walking time (AWT). The p-value for the results were less than 5% which indicates a strong evidence to reject the null hypothesis. The results prove that children with more steps and continuous walking had higher motor proficiency scores.

BOTMP-SF AWT (minutes.day-1) S (steps.day-1) AS (aerobic steps.day-1)
Running speed and agility r= 0.31 r= 0.32
Standing on preferred leg on balance beam r= 0.36 r=0.39
Catching tossed ball with both hands r= 0.33 r= 0.35
Throwing a ball at target with preferred hand r= 0.30
Copying overlapping pencils with preferred hand r= 0.37
Dynamic balance r=0.401

Note: r= correlation, all results had p<0.5, no significant correlations were found between the other variables.

When examined in quartiles, the highest quartile of BOTMP-SF standard score had an average of 46.25 min.day-1 more in aerobic walking and 5.053 steps.day-1 more than the other children in the lowest quartile.
It also showed only 6.8% of children having 10,000 steps or more per day with some children achieving zero AS.

Longitudinal studies are unclear in this research but in another research, it is shown that motor proficiency skills developed as a child has a positive perception of competence in physical activity as an adolescent.[11]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The study has proven a positive relationship between physical activity and motor proficiency skills in young children. In recent research conducted, it shows the importance of motor skills and its effect on children’s engagement with physical activity and reducing the risk of childhood obesity. Research done in this area have all agreed that there is a positive feedback loop between physical activity and motor skills and these habits and skills should be introduced since young.[12] [13]

Practical Advice[edit | edit source]

Children aged 6-12 years need at least 60 minutes of daily unstructured play. However, the estimated obesity or overweight levels for children in Australia are 25% in children aged 2-17 years in 2014-2015.
This is a serious indication of the risk of chronic health disease for the population in the future and to reduce this, we need to educate parents and children on the importance and benefits of physical activity from young.

Further Information[edit | edit source]

  1. Overweight and Obesity Report and Statistics
  2. Benefits of Physical Activity for Children
  3. Physical Activity and Young People by WHO
  4. Kids at Play Active Program
  5. Just Play by School Sport ACT

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Stodden, D. et al. (2008) Quest, 60:2, 290-306,
  2. Kambas, Antonis, et al.(2015) Annals of human biology 42.3: 233-238.
  3. Antonis Kambas http://duth.academia.edu/AntonisKambas
  4. Sallis, James F., and Brian E. Saelens.(2000) Research quarterly for exercise and sport 71.sup2: 1-14.
  5. John, Dinesh, et al. (2018) Sensors 18.4: 1206.
  6. Feito, Yuri. (2013) Educación Física y Deporte 32.2: 1523.
  7. Goodway, Jacqueline D., Richard Suminski, and Alberto Ruiz.(2003) Res Q Exerc Sport 74: A12-13.
  8. Hills, Andrew P., Lars Bo Andersen, and Nuala M. Byrne.(2011) British journal of sports medicine 45.11: 866-870.
  9. Beitel, Patricia A., and Barbara J. Mead.(1980) Perceptual and Motor Skills 51.3: 919-923.
  10. Wiart, Lesley, and Johanna Darrah.(2001) Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 43.4: 279-285.
  11. Barnett, Lisa M., et al.(2008) International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity 5.1: 40.
  12. Engel, Alexander C., et al.(2018) Sports Medicine: 1-13.
  13. Veldman, Sanne LC, et al.(2018) Journal of science and medicine in sport 21.8: 817-821.