Research Study Abstract

Are Physical Activity and Fundamental Motor Skills Related at the Age of Four?

  • Added on July 6, 2012

Introduction Research lacks knowledge regarding the intensity of physical activity (PA) that preschool children need for the sufficient fundamental motor skills (FMS) necessary to be physically active (Stodden et al. 2008). This study aims at determining if different intensities of PA and FMS are related at the age of four.

Methods The data was collected during autumn 2011 from 26 boys and 32 girls (mean age 4.12 ± 0.33 years). PA was measured objectively for 5 consecutive days (for at least 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day) using the ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer and FMS by APM Inventory (Numminen 1995). The FMS measures were 1) right- and left- foot static balance, 2) dynamic balance, 3) standing broad jump, 4) sliding and galloping, 5) throwing and catching combination, 6) throwing at a 2m target, 7) kicking a ball at a target and 8) sum score of manipulative skills (5–7). PA was classified by intensity cut-points established by Van Cauwenberghe et al. (2010). The Mann-Whitney U-test and the Pearson correlation coefficients analyzed the differences between the two genders and the relationships between average weekday and weekend-day PA and FMS. PA was categorized as total (counts per min.), light (373–584), moderate (585–880) and vigorous (? 881) and combined categories of LMVPA (? 373) and MVPA (? 585).

Results Boys had more moderate PA during weekdays than girls (p = 0.035). Among girls, several significant (p ? 0.05) positive correlations (R = 0.42–0.48) were observed between PA and FMS. The significant relationship was observed between throwing and the 2 categories of moderate and LMVPA for weekdays, and the 5 categories of light, moderate, vigorous, LMVPA and MVPA for weekend days. The similar correlations were found between manipulative skills and light PA for weekdays, and light and moderate PA for weekend days. The highest correlations were observed between throwing and light PA for weekdays (R = 0.52), manipulative skills and light PA for weekend days (R = 0.55) and manipulative skills and MVPA for weekend days (R = 0.53). PA was not related to FMS among boys.

Discussion Boys were more physically active than girls during weekdays at the age of four. PA was related to FMS among girls, but not among boys. Even light PA was positively related to girls’ manipulative skills, both during weekdays and weekend days. One reason for this might be that the nervous system in girls developed earlier than in boys.

References Numminen, P. 1995. APM-Inventory. Jyväskylä: LIKES. Stodden, D.F. et al. 2008. Quest 60, 290–306. Van Cauwenberghe, E. et al. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 2010; Early Online, 1–8